Report from Nashville : Scientology Volunteer Ministers and the Nashville Flood Cleanup
May 26, 2010
The first weekend of May, the Cumberland River overflowed, flooding downtown Nashville. Not only were entire neighborhoods submerged, but resorts, restaurants and hotels were inundated with floodwater and mud. Mayor Karl Dean has predicted the cleanup will cost $1.5 billion and the relief effort will be continuing for months.
As soon as they learned flooding was expected and shelters were being set up, the Church of Scientology & Celebrity Centre of Nashville called up their Scientology Volunteer Ministers. The VMs started providing relief even before the major flooding began and have continued ever since. They are working as part of Hands On Nashville-the city's official volunteer corps.
The first few days, VMs helped at disaster relief centers, and with evacuations. Several shelters were set up in schools and the VMs helped man and organize them. All 1500 guests of the Opryland Hotel had to be evacuated- the courtyard was completely submerged and floodwater rose to 10 feet inside the hotel. The Scientology Volunteer Ministers worked at the school where the Opryland guests were brought, and helped them find their luggage and book flights out of the city.
It can be pretty confusing when a disaster strikes. The shelters weren't organized to deal with the number of people showing up. Some were there to find a place to sleep till they could get back to their homes, some came to find food, apply for food stamps or FEMA assistance, and others were showing up to help. The VMs helped organize it, assigning specific volunteers to the various functions and putting up signs that directed people those needing different services knew where to go. People from all over town were showing up to help, so one of the VMs sent out a team to locate homes needing assistance and had them text message in the details so volunteers could be dispatched to provide whatever was needed.
Some of the Volunteer Ministers went to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds where the Speedway had been flooded out. The National Guard was stationed there and the VMs took over one of the water distribution centers and handed out drinking water all day long.
As soon as the water started to recede the VMs began arduous job of helping neighbors dig out from the mud and sift through mounds of soggy paper, ruined furniture and waterlogged personal possessions. In one house, the flooding tore in with so much force it whipped a grand piano off the floor and left it upside down when the water ran off.
It can be pretty rough to have your whole house and all your possessions destroyed overnight-not something you plan for. So, sometimes when a VM arrives at someone's home they find people stressed out. When that happens, or if they find someone traumatized, they provide a service all Volunteer Ministers are trained on, called Assists. Assists are techniques developed by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard and one of their benefits is they help people overcome spiritual and emotional trauma. Our Volunteer Ministers website has a free course where anyone can learn these techniques.
With the amount of damage that occurred throughout Nashville the Church of Scientology & Celebrity Centre of Nashville plans to continue its Volunteer Minister services for the coming months, and is also offering free disaster relief training. To enroll on the course or learn more about the program can visit the Church at 1130 8th Ave South, Nashville or call 615-687-4600.