Months later, displaced flood victims still struggling to recover

flood assistance
Posted at 9:55 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 14:42:43-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Michael Harvell came home on March 28 to find his family climbing furniture to avoid floodwaters. His is just one of several families the Hispanic Family Foundation is still helping to recover.

"I got a call from my wife and she told me that the water was getting real high, up to our window," said Harvell outside his former apartment complex.

He, his wife and two children called their apartment home for three years until the night of March 28.

"When I finally made it there they were stuck in the house, my family was, both the walls had collapsed on each side of them. So my wife, my daughter, and my son was trapped inside because there was five feet of water and they couldn't open the door on either side," said Harvell.

The family stood on furniture to avoid drowning until Harvell broke the door down and rescued them.

"It's not even about material things, it's like stuff that you can't replace, you know," he said,"like my son's first swing, just stuff that you can't replace, like his first pair of shoes."

"There is a need and just because we don't see it because we're not in the thick of it doesn't mean that it's not there," Executive Director of the Hispanic Family Foundation, Diane Janvakhsh.

At first, the nonprofit worked mostly with Latinos, but minority families of all backgrounds have since come forward looking for help.

"We've come across some circumstances where the landlords and certain entities are not working or not being helpful with the tenants and some of the people that lost everything," she said.

Whether it's finding them a home or a job, the foundation makes sure families like the Harvell's aren't forgotten.

"It's been wonderful being able to form a net making sure people don't fall through the cracks and that's what we want to do with this," said Janvakhsh.

Harvell said his biggest challenge now is finding affordable housing, but he's thankful the floodwaters didn't wash away what's most important- his family. "So at the end of the day [there's] nowhere to go but up."

The Hispanic Family Foundation is hosting a multi-agency recovery center with FEMA and the Small Business Administration at the Plaza Mariachi.

The public event will continue from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week. It will also be open Saturday, May 29 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The MARC will be closed on Sunday, May 30 and Monday, May 31 for Memorial Day. The MARC will reopen on Tuesday, June 1 and continue until Sunday, June 6.