Mar 3, 2022 - News

Two years later, tornado still has long shadow

A person walks by a building damaged by the 2020 tornado.
A person walks by a building damaged by the 2020 tornado. Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Two years ago today, a deadly tornado cut a path of destruction through the heart of the city.

  • Recovery came fitfully during the pandemic. Scars from the storm are still visible.

Why it matters: In some ways, the tornado exposed Nashville at its best. Volunteers plunged in to help before daybreak and rallied behind the victims.

Flashback: Neighborhood streets were twisted beyond recognition and reduced to heaps of wood and metal. The storm killed two people in East Nashville before traveling east, bringing more carnage to Cookeville.

  • The Rev. Bede Price, the priest at Assumption Church in Germantown, remembers walking outside in bare feet to see the mangled roof of a nearby AutoZone lying in the middle of the road.

State of play: At Assumption Church, as in many parts of the city, the recovery is still underway.

  • The damaged steeple was replaced in December and the last wave of tornado repairs is drawing to a close, Price tells Axios.

Driving the news: "There are symbols like that" throughout the city, Councilmember Freddie O'Connell tells Axios.

  • "In some cases, you see what has been restored. In other cases, you still see a pile of rubble," O'Connell says. "The healing is not complete."
  • In East Nashville, Drifters BBQ — a longtime staple in the Five Points neighborhood — only reopened last week after sustaining significant damage.

What they're saying: State Rep. Harold Love Jr. (D-Nashville), who participated in recovery efforts in North Nashville, tells Axios a series of factors collided to complicate matters.

  • Nashville's booming construction landscape made it harder to secure crews for repairs. COVID sidelined relief work. But, he says, the volunteerism that animated the aftermath of the 2010 flood remained intact.
  • "Nashville was not short on the love of one's neighbor."
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