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Nashville recovery mired in disputes

BY GEORGE PIPER | NASHVILLE, Tenn. | November 23, 1998

NASHVILLE, Tenn., (Nov. 23, 1998) -- Recovery moves slowly forward in East

Nashville, where blue tarps represent disagreements with insurance

companies and a shortage of contractors to repair and rebuild some 3,000

tornado-damaged homes.

Violent storms on April 16 spawned tornadoes on the historic east side of

the Volunteer State's capital city. Shortly after the disaster, officials

from Church World Service helped local clergy form the Nashville Interfaith

Disaster Response.

NIDR reports that its clients and others around Nashville are battling low

settlement amounts from insurance companies. In some cases, public

adjusters working on commission step in to represent homeowners who feel

their claims are being shortchanged.

"We have been having a hard time getting people to the point of rebuilding

because they're being held up by the insurance process," said Carolyn

Tyler, a United Methodist minister and NIDR executive director, who is

leaving in December to head up a similar group in Biloxi, Miss.

The interfaith organization is soliciting pro bono work from attorneys and

is pursuing an advocacy role to handle these concerns.

The Rev. Lanny Lawler, president of NIDR, wonders if laws covering the

insurance industry are adequate, at least from his viewpoint. He relayed

the story of one person whose home suffered some $90,000 worth of damage in

the owner's estimation, but the insurance adjuster offered just $15,000.

Tornado damage, coupled with a suburban building boom around Nashville,

makes contractors scarce and frustrates those who wanted homes repaired by

know, Tyler said.

Still, NIDR is plodding through the mess left by the post-Easter week

storms. It has closed nine of the 40 cases it is handling -- including one

completely rebuilt home -- and work crews from Christian Reformed Church

(CRWRC) are now in Nashville working on 15 others. Another 11 cases are

pending as homeowners await word from insurance adjusters.

Residents within the tornado zone seem tired and fatigued about the

whole process, said Lawler, pastor at Eastwood Christian Church (Disciples

of Christ).

"I think is takes a lot longer to recover than people allow for it," he

said. "In this culture of instant gratification and a quick fix, it doesn't

happen that way after a disaster."

NIDR includes members of the: Southern Baptist Convention, Mennonite

Disaster Services, Tennessee Convention of the United Methodist Church,

Christian Reformed Church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,

Christian Church "Disciples of Christ," Salvation Army, United Church of

Christ, Middle Tennessee Presbyterian Church of the United States,

Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Roman Catholic Diocese of

Nashville, Seventh Day Adventists and the Jewish Federation.

The city of Nashville also operates a disaster recovery board, and another

local group is replanting trees on a landscape still dotted with stumps.

On Sunday, the East Nashville community conducted a "We're Still Here"

Thanksgiving service at Christ Episcopal Church. Nashville's emergency

management office even sent invitations to nearly 3,000 families whose

homes were damaged or destroyed.

Another bright spot is the upcoming rebuilding of St. Ann's Episcopal

Church. A twister destroyed the 116-year-old structure that the

congregation called home for most of its 140 years in Nashville. After

reviewing its options, church members decide to rebuild on the old site.

The Rev. Lisa Hunt, pastor over the 240-member congregation for nine

years, was at the church office when it happened. She hustled her daughter,

son and a

church volunteer into a basement. When the storm ended and they came

upstairs, they saw the result.

"It was totally blown down," she said, adding that they saved some of the

church's stained glass windows. "The roof caved in on it and destroyed the

whole building."

New construction and the existing foundation will mesh to form the new

church, which also will have meeting and classroom space. The new church is

scheduled to be completed by early 2001.

Posted Nov. 23, 1998

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