One year after storm, tornado survivors remember terrifying night

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Posted at 7:09 AM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 08:35:18-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As the deadly March 2020 tornado tore though downtown Nashville and approached Germantown, Whitt Laxson found himself in the middle of it.

"It happened so fast," Laxson remembered. The then-NewsChannel 5 This Morning producer was driving into to work when the storm hit his car.

"I had no control, I couldn't see, so much debris hitting my car and the next thing I know I'm hitting a big Autozone sign," he said. Shortly after the storm, he said he felt lucky to be alive.

"It's kind of that feeling of fear," he said.

That feeling of fear filled phone lines across Nashville that morning, as people across the area called emergency crews.

"The whole building is gone, the building is gone. We're looking for the rest of our employees now," one caller from near John C Tune Airport said.

"I don't know. I'm super trapped, I can't walk! I don't know if I'm bleeding or anything. I need help right now!" a call from the Jefferson Street Bridge in downtown said.

Over the last year, that fear has started to fade away.

"It's crazy that a year has gone by," Laxson said. He now works as a programming producer at a news station in Tampa. Construction crews finished the job the tornado started, and tore down the Autozone Building in Germantown. But reminders of the storm remain. Some are obvious, like the scar on Laxson's arm.

"That's where they pulled out the one shard of glass that was in my body," Laxson said.

Other reminders are more subtle.

"There are definitely things that kind of trigger memories, like when I go through a car wash, I think about the similar noise," he added. "I guess I think about it more often than not, more often than I wish."