North Nashville residents still working to recover from March 2020 tornado 2 years later

Church leaders blame 'gentrifying predators'
Posted at 6:04 AM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 08:34:56-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It’s been two years since communities around Middle Tennessee were changed forever by a series of overnight deadly tornadoes.

Twenty-five were people killed as the tornadoes torn across the region from Nashville to Putnam County.

Neighbors in North Nashville are still dealing with the aftermath, pockets of the community were badly damaged.

Strong winds took out dozens of homes and trees. The community is already facing the challenges of gentrification and poverty.

Several homes have not been repaired or rebuilt, but there have been some new and more expensive homes built.

St. John A.M.E Church Pastor Lisa Hammonds is still seeing what she calls "the toxic culture in landlord/tenant relationships."

She said gentrifying predators offer funds to purchase distressed properties, especially those damaged by the tornado.

These properties were previously rented, so this further displaces people whose light is already exacerbated by a deadly tornado and COVID-19 pandemic protocols.

“They don’t have access to other funding that has run out to be able to address those needs for themselves,” Pastor Hammonds explained.

Hammonds lost the church building during the storm two years ago too.

St. John A.M.E has been around for 150 years and has served this North Nashville community for more than 60 years, so when it was destroyed it was a huge loss.

Pastor Hammonds said the plan is to rebuild. The church is getting ready to launch a capital campaign soon to see what a building project will look like.

Church members still fellowship and do outreach in the community through their community garden.

“It’s not only a way to provide fellowship and nutrients in food but a way to maintain a spiritual presence in the neighborhood. So, we've got wonderful seating. It's an inviting environment, people can come on their lunch hours, and commune with God or just appreciate nature,” Pastor Hammonds said.

Right now, church members worship virtually. The congregation will start worshiping back in person at their sister church a few days a week very soon.