Tornado Changed East Nashville 10 Years Ago - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Tornado Changed East Nashville 10 Years Ago


NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A tornado that ripped through Nashville 10 years ago devastated parts of East Nashville. 

The community managed to turn tragedy into triumph. A few violent seconds forever changed the community across the Cumberland River from downtown Nashville.

"I didn't know what the damage was. I didn't believe it was this bad," said a woman crying after she looked at the damage around her.

The tornado damaged or destroyed 3,000 homes and 15 churches. 

"The devil growled here on Eastland Avenue that day," said a resident.

Ten years later Charlsie Holmes remembers exactly where she was.  She was with the pastor of St. Ann's Episcopal Church and her two children.

"What was amazing was that we are still alive," said one of the children.

"We knew there was bound to be damage out there but we didn't know what it would have been," Holmes said.

The sanctuary was destroyed.  A prominent stained-glass window lay under rubble, Bibles soaked in the rain.

But 10 years later the 150-year-old church is back.  The stained-glass window was reinstalled. The Bibles are safe and dry.

"God was not in the tornado, but in our response" is the message carved into a stone in front of the church. The response redefined all of East Nashville, which is an area booming with commercial and residential development.

A coffee shop sits amid new condos and upscale restaurants on Eastland Avenue. They sit on a corner destroyed by the storm.

"The insurance money that came through here because of the tornado had a huge impact on moving forward the development of East Nashville," said a resident.

Tens of millions of dollars transformed homes and ignited growth, which continues.

But not everyone benefited. The storm blew out the historic windows of The Russell Street Church of Christ.  The building was a mess. 

A new congregation uses the building and repaired it, but the building is for sale once again.

"When we got it it had been sitting for five and a half years and it was in severe disrepair," said a member.

Neighbors worry what will move in.  The asking price is nearly $1.2 million.

"What's going to happen? We don't want just anything to move into it quite frankly," said a neighbor.

Ten years later East Nashville is still responding.

Former Nashville mayor and current Gov. Phil Bredesen established a tornado recovery board after the storm. One of its accomplishments was to bring urban planners to East Nashville to help coordinate the rebuilding and recovery.

On Wednesday morning's MorningLine host Nick Beres will talk to NewsChannel 5 meteorologist Lelan Statom and chief photographer Mike Rose on the 10th anniversary of the Nashville tornado.

At 6 p.m., there will be more coverage about how individuals and institutions coped with and recovered from storm including Grace M. Eaton Child Care Center.

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