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One Year Later: Tornado destruction leads to gentrification in North Nashville

north nashville tornado damage
Posted at 5:47 PM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 10:00:06-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A year after Music City was rocked by a tornado overnight on March 3, North Nashville still hasn't recovered, and some fear has changed.

A total of 365 days later and what lingers in the area around 24th Street are memories.

Entangled in the situation that is North Nashville are many families. Families like Danny McDaniels'.

"I think it was like 1 in the morning. We were all asleep," said McDaniels. His two teenage girls and wife all huddled in the hallway of their home as the tornado narrowly skirted by.

There are people and organizations who are trying to hold off what seems inevitable. People like Jamel Campbell-Gooch of Gideon's Army.

"We were already struggling with hyper-gentrification, high concentrations of poverty, displacement," said Campbell-Gooch.

At least one pastor has tried to help. Curtis Bryant of Greater Heights Missionary Baptist Church.

"The soul of this neighborhood for many many years has been mostly black families," said Pastor Bryant.

The aftermath of the March 3 tornado is complicated. What's straightforward is many people lost their homes. They were either renting or owned property. But what's complex is why after 365 days so many residents and homes have not bounced back.

"Most everybody who is still here has either sold are trying to put it together by themselves," said McDaniels.

He is trying to rebuild with the help of others. His home is not quite fixed but progress is underway.

"Everybody is frustrated. Because there's supposed to be money available to people. You can talk to FEMA and they'll give you a couple thousand. What's that going to do for your house? That's not going to do anything for your house. That will help you buy some clothes or something," he said.

Meanwhile, just doors down new construction is happening.

Gentrification.

"We know that the livable wage across the entire county is around $51,000," said Campbell-Gooch "The average person brings in $21,000. So, that's a huge gap right there that is only growing."

How can the people who lived here afford to rebuild?

"What I often struggle with is why do we have to be harmed in so many ways to get some type of attention here," add Campbell-Gooch.

Pastor Bryant is trying to help the people he can. But he knows it will never be the same. He and the Tennessee Community Recovery Network are the ones fixing up McDaniel's home.

"It's been a slow and tedious process. We're getting it done for him. The beauty of it is he doesn't have to do it from his pocket," said Bryant.

McDaniels is fortunate when others lost everything due to the fierce winds.

Some fear what's at stake here is Nashville's identity. Especially for people who were born and raised in North Nashville as new people move into the area.

Pastor Curtis is trying to stay positive.

"The properties can go. The units, but who are the people who comes into the neighborhood. Do they still have love for each other? What's a real community? Those are foundational questions," said Bryant.

Others hope some type of help comes for an area that's seen better days.

"It's been a year. It's been a long time; a long process," said McDaniels.