Nashville still recovering from March 2020 tornadoes in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — North Nashville is still recovering from the violent tornadoes that tore across Tennessee in March 2020.

Homes in the historically Black neighborhood were among the thousands of buildings damaged or destroyed by the seven tornadoes that ripped apart communities ahead of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. In total, the twisters killed 25 people and injured hundreds more.

Signs of the havoc caused by the tornadoes are still visible along neighborhood streets, like where Sam Brown is rebuilding his home. One year ago, a tornado demolished it in the middle of the night.

“You’ll never forget that,” Brown said. 

Sam Brown takes a moment to look at his home Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Brown decided to serve as his own contractor to rebuild his demolished home after a tornado ripped through the neighborhood in March 2020. In the past year, Brown has had to stop and restart his construction process as he struggles to finance his rebuilding efforts.

Since then, progress has been slow as Brown, 59, navigates financial challenges and the learning curve of being his own contractor. He described the experience as stressful and frustrating, but is thankful to those who have been able to help him and his wife, Tina Brown, along the way. 

He also praised God.

“Without him, I think we’d just never made it,” said Brown, a member of Galilee Missionary Baptist Church.

Sam Brown looks out a window as he checks the progress of work at his home Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.

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If the work stays on track, Brown and his wife hope to move back home in the next couple of months. He is not sure if finishing the house will feel like a new beginning for the couple because life never stopped, Brown said as he stood in front of his house Monday as construction continued. 

But moving back home will be a special moment.  

“It’ll mean everything,” Brown said.

Here’s a look at where recovery efforts stand a year after the powerful tornadoes.

Sam and Tina Brown look at the progress of their home as they rebuild on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. A tornado ripped through the North Nashville neighborhood March 3, 2020 flattening Brown’s home early that morning.
Sam Brown checks on his property on March 9, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Brown’s home was destroyed after a tornado ripped through the city.
Homeowner Sam Brown picks up belongings as debris from his homesite is removed Thursday, March 26, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.
A sign rests in the yard at Sam Brown’s homesite Wednesday, July 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.
An American flag flies on a utility pole at Sam Brown's homesite Wednesday, July 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. A tornado ripped through the North Nashville neighborhood March 3, 2020 demolishing homes early that morning.
Sam Brown walks past his home as he rebuilds on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.
Sam Brown tosses bricks at his home on Nov. 5, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Brown decided to serve as his own contractor to rebuild his demolished home after a tornado ripped through the neighborhood in March 2020.
Sam Brown checks the progress of work at his home on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn. In the past year Brown has had to stop and restart his construction process as he struggles to finance his rebuilding efforts.
Sam Brown looks over an electrical approval card as he checks the progress of work at his home Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.
Then: A woman looks through her refrigerator after it was ripped out of her home in the Elizabeth Park neighborhood of Nashville, Tenn., on March 3, 2020.
Now: A house stands repaired Monday, Aug. 17, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. A tornado ripped through the North Nashville neighborhood March 3, 2020 damaging homes early that morning.
Then: Residents of the Elizabeth Park neighborhood in Nashville, Tenn., try to figure out their next steps after a tornado ripped the wall off their home on March 3, 2020.
Now: A home has been repaired Wednesday, July 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn., after it was damaged by a tornado March 3.
A sign says a home has been condemned Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Many homeowners have not be able to make the necessary repairs or rebuild after a tornado ripped through the area March 3, 2020 demolishing homes early that morning.
A homesite along is for sale Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn. Some property owners have decided to sell their property after a tornado ripped through the neighborhood in March 2020.
Daniel McDaniel stands outside his home after bringing lunch to members of Hope Force International, a charity organization, who are repairing his tornado damaged home Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn. McDaniel was uninsured when a tornado ripped through the neighborhood in March 2020.
Steve LaForge and Alan Sowell of Hope Force International work to repair the tornado damaged home of Daniel McDaniel on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.
Steve LaForge and Alan Sowell work to repair the tornado damaged home of Daniel McDaniel on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.
Tracey Watkins looks out the door of her home Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020 Nashville, Tenn. While trying to repair her home after the March 3 tornado, Watkins has had to navigate financial hurdles, like fighting with her insurance company to cover repair costs.
Tracey Watkins prepares a meal for her family at her home Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020 Nashville, Tenn. She said she was denied federal relief funds and had to dip into her savings to repair her house.
Tracey Watkins connects to a web meeting for work at her home on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn. Watkins has slowly gotten her home repaired after the tornado ripped through her neighborhood in March 2020.
Tracey Watkins points to where her roof and ceiling were damaged in her home Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.
A home has been demolished and the debris removed Wednesday, July 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. after it was damaged by a tornado in March 2020.
Shortly after a tornado struck, Michael Warren took a photo on his phone of a house that was destroyed across the street from a house he owns. The house has been torn down and now the lot is empty on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.
Damage in North Nashville as seen from a MNPD helicopter after a tornado touched down Tuesday, March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.

Contributing: George Walker IV, Nashville Tennessean

Follow reporter Holly Meyer on Twitter @HollyAMeyer. 

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