Resilient response to setbacks proving spirit of recovery in East Nashville

Nashville Tornado

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Signs and symbols often tell stories, like the scars of a struggle. But also true is the determination and resolve, the spirit to rebuild resonating east of the Cumberland. 

“To see the ‘I believe in Nashville’ mural standing, but the building take on so much damage, I think it was sad, but demonstrated the strength of East Nashville,” recalled Robbie Drimmer.  

Perhaps the city’s best-known neighborhood, East Nashville took a direct hit during the March 3 tornado outbreak. 

“I grabbed my chainsaw and tried to walk into Lockeland Springs, every street was shut down,” Drimmer said.   

Drimmer, a community vet for a dozen-plus years, did what many of these neighbors do. 

“I literally crawled through Lockeland Springs park with a chainsaw and a can of gas, and you could just see thousands of trees down, homes gone, roofs ripped off,” he said. 

Hands on and helping, an affiliate broker, leading the Drimmer Group at Compass Real Estate, Drimmer knows these streets well, along with the beating they’ve taken. 

“The beauty of East Nashville, these old gems that have stood 100 to 120 years, and there is little to nothing left of them,” said Drimmer. 

Like the bones the city was built on, the resiliency is showing to be strong. Drimmer eyes a comeback faster than what followed the 1998 tornado. And despite the unforeseen onslaught coming with COVID-19, more people are still relocating here, and poised to pour into local businesses.  

“I think it’s going to bounce back stronger than ever because there is a surplus of people who want to move to Nashville and East Nashville specifically and support it.”  

The same EF-3 to hit The Basement East, took aim on Koi Sushi and Thai restaurant. They went without electricity from the beginning of March, until early June. 

“When the tornado happened everybody around us had power, but this restaurant didn’t,” said Koi employee, Saky Leng. “We’re going to get it fixed, but also at the same time it’s overwhelming too.” 

Because by the time power returned, there was the pandemic. Determined, they relied on serving takeout to a loyal customer base, and rebuilt an expanded patio.  

“We are kind of blessed that we are able to open again. It’s taken us a long time, we didn’t get electric until a month before we opened.” 

Today Koi is open, and looking to thrive. 

“Definitely, we got it, we can all work through it,” Leng said.

It’s the spirit of East. A belief and staying power to battle back. 

“The fight is definitely strong in the East Nashville community, and welcoming at the same time,” said Drimmer. 

It’s what they do best. 

“I think East Nashville is always going to be ready to fight, it’s the mentality that we have. It’s a tough community.”

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

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