COVID-19 slows down Nashville's recovery from the tornado

Posted at 4:44 PM, Mar 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-22 06:53:01-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — When history is written on the deadly tornadoes that tore through Nashville and Middle Tennessee, they will talk about how just hours after the clouds cleared, in came the volunteers.

"They’re amazing, they’re the definition of what a true Nashvillian is," said Taylor Butler.

But just weeks after the tornado, another disaster has caused that cleanup to stop - COVID 19.

"It’s like post-apocalyptic over here," said Butler.

He and his wife survived the storm, but many features of their home did not.

Now Holly Street looks like it's been frozen in time. All work has stopped, the volunteers went home, but many of the residents still can't.

"It’s just been a crazy halt, which is understandable. I mean we get it, it’s just been crazy times," Butler said. "Insurance has been good, they’re on top of it, but I’m not sure what they’re saying will happen just because there’s just too much chaos going on."

Uncertainty is also in the air at the Community Resource Center.

"We had 200-300 volunteers here at this time last Saturday and cars lined up all the way to Lebanon Road," said Tina Doniger, executive director of the Community Resource Center.

Hundreds of volunteers have been reduced to less than ten, each shift at each site, per the CDC's recommendation for social distancing.

"We’ve lessened the amount of our crew and are just going to keep going as long as we can," Doniger said.

The workload has only grown. So little by little, volunteers have been sorting items that can be shipped out into communities wrecked by the storm and the virus.

"So our people that need support because of what we do everyday are calling plus the agencies that are needing support because of the tornadoes. So it is a beautiful dance of helping people right now for as long as we possibly can," said Doniger.

No one knows what the final draft will look like for Nashville's recovery, but Butler is pretty sure this pause could span several chapters.

"People are going to have to come to the harsh realization that this is our new reality for a little bit. We’ll get back, if we have to do it by ourselves, we’ll do it," he said.

If you would like to help with recovery efforts, but don't feel safe leaving your home, the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and the Community Resource Center are asking for monetary donations. Below are links to both: