Healing Hearts | Special team from East Tenn. deployed to tornado recovery

East Tennessee Red Cross is calling on health care professionals to volunteer.
While buildings sit destroyed beyond repair, health professionals are hoping to mend stressed, emotionally injured tornado victims.
Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 6:15 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Buildings visibly broken into pieces and homes damaged beyond repair are losses that are easy to spot after a tornado came through parts of the region. However, there are other tragedies that aren’t as noticeable to American Red Cross Middle Tennessee volunteers like Lenora McMeekin.

“They are just starting to get a grip on what’s going on,” said McKeekin. “I’ve had people come into the shelter and they’re upset.”

McMeekin doesn’t always have the words, but she has the resources and a team backing her in East Tennessee. The area chapter has deployed several licensed health care professionals who give aid the average volunteer can’t provide.

“Understanding that these folks have been traumatized and they don’t know how to move forward. How do you make the next step forward,” said Volunteer Disaster Health Services Coordinator Jill Hoover. The Knoxville nurse told WVLT News at least two health care workers are boots on the ground.

Meanwhile, Hoover has connected with families that have lost anything from medicine, eye glasses, oxygen tanks or just about any medical need.

“The last thing they’re worried about is remembering that they have to take their medication...we can call the pharmacy or their physician, and get these replaced for them,” Hoover said.

As part of the health services, American Red Cross has taken a step further deploying mental health counselors for victims struggling with grief.

East Tennessee Red Cross is calling on more health care professionals to volunteer.

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