83. March 3, 2020: The day after the Tennessee tornado.
TOP: CLICK ORANGE ARROW TO HEAR SOUNDS IN THE AFTERMATH, INCLUDING A CROWD SINGING “AMAZING GRACE.”
ABOVE: Nashville Metropolitan Police officer J. Kinberg is hugged by a homeless man after sharing food with the man and his injured friends following a deadly tornado, on the corner of Jefferson St. and Rosa Parks Blvd in downtown Nashville, March 3, 2020.
The day after a tornado tore through the city and surrounding counties killing at least 24 people, the homeless man and his friends told officer Kinberg their stories of surviving the storm without shelter.
While the devastation was vast so was the service of neighbors. Many people remembered the devastating flood of 2010 and remarked how quickly neighbors stepped up to help one another then and now.
Above, friends and members of the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church on Monroe St. gather to pray at the site of their destroyed historic church.
Some homes in the Buena Vista area next to Germantown were ripped apart nearly to the foundation. Some had the top floors ripped off.
Nick, a Nashville news cameraman said he has filmed the aftermath of many tornadoes in his career but he had never seen so much debris. He said residents of the neighborhood explained the debris came from the new construction of “skinny” houses that simply exploded.
Deangelo Davis, 12, was searching the neighborhood for his friends whose home was ripped apart on Monroe St. He said his friends we crowded in their front room with their parents when the wall was ripped off by the tornado. Amazingly none of them were sucked out of the house, he said.
Resident Erin Oprea roamed Monroe street serving neighbors and coordinating service volunteers.
Downed utility and power lines made most routes in Germantown and Buena Vista impassable for vehicle traffic. The neighborhoods looked like a ghost town.
Mary Ortiz and a volunteer crew from Antioch led by Manuel Martinez leave Buena Vista for Germantown to aid in cleanup efforts.
Mary said she and her family live in Germantown. She said she and her two children were simply out helping their neighbors when they connected with Manuel and his friends.
Manuel is a Mexican construction worker from Antioch, he said through a translator. He said he called his friends and they grabbed their tools and headed to find anywhere they could help.
Fisk University students Andreas Nelson and Tyler Pridgen walk past destroyed vans with windows riddled with holes. A scene out of a war zone, they agreed.
Nelson said Tyler had called him and a group of their friends to organize a crew to go and serve. Armed with garbage bags and bottles of water to distribute, the students moved through the streets of Germantown picking up debris and helping where they could.
Fisk University students Clarke Bagsby, Andreas Nelson, Diamond Means, Brandi Bruce, and (below at right) John Clifton assist in cleaning up at the destroyed Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church.
Overton Davis swept his porch and prepared to board up his broken windows on Monroe St. Davis said he had spent the day helping his neighbors, some who had lost almost everything. He told the story of one neighbor’s car being moved across a street and outdoor furniture distributed across the neighborhood. He was also quick to say, “None of that stuff really matters though.” He said stuff can be replaced and we are lucky to still have our lives.
Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church member Julius Williams puts up caution tape at his church. He and his wife Brenda said many people had been going inside the church to photograph and look around but they were afraid the walls might fall. Another church member said this is the second time a tornado has struck the church. It was hit by a tornado in 1998, she said. “I don’t know if the church will survive this one.”
At Hopewell church the minister told his congregation they were as yet unsure where they would worship together in the coming days, and they were unsure if the church could be saved at all.
As evening came on neighbors gathered to sing Amazing Grace.