East Nashville rebuilding from tornado as pandemic brings new challenges

Nashville Tornado

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nearly five months after a deadly and devastating tornado outbreak, East Nashville is looking toward the future. But there is uncertainty, at least in the short term, as the community copes with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Less than three weeks after the tornado, the coronavirus crisis was unfolding rapidly. Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced a “safer at home” order, requiring residents of Davidson County to stay inside their homes unless they are engaged in certain essential activities. This followed a previous Metro Board of Health mandate shutting down bars across Davidson County. Statewide restrictions on dine-in service at restaurants came soon after.

It was a one-two punch for East Nashville and its vibrant, popular dining and entertainment scene – and it all came in the month of March.

Still, there is hope and optimism.

“We are survivors here,” said Margot McCormack, owner of Margot Café and Bar. “This is the second tornado that this building has survived. It survived the tornado of ’98.”

Weiss Liquors, an East Nashville fixture since 1932, lost its iconic sign in the tornado. Owner Anne Nicholas Weiss is working to restore it, using some of the surviving original pieces.

“We just wanted to be here and show East Nashville that no matter what – tornado, pandemic – we will be here,” said McCormack.

Meanwhile, work to rebuild The Basement East continues. Despite extensive tornado damage, the venue’s “I Believe In Nashville” mural was left intact, becoming an iconic symbol of hope.

“We’re very humbled to have become the symbol and the visual connection to the devastation and the destruction,” Basement East co-owner Dave Brown explained.

News 2 is taking a closer look at East Nashville’s rebuilding. Join us for special reports in every newscast Thursday, July 23.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of Super Tuesday tornado rebuilding and recovery.

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