Tornado victim holds onto hope as rebuilding process hits hurdles in East Nashville historic overlay

Nashville Tornado

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Rejuvenation found in rebuilding after the March 3 deadly tornado outbreak. For Eric Peters, a small garden has been a sign of hope and healing.

“Take that tornado,” Peters said as he discovered a few cucumbers.

He planted the garden at the back of his empty lot at the corner of Russell and 19th Street after the tornado wiped out his East Nashville home.

“It’s still hard for me to come down like I’ll come down 17th near Lockeland school where my boys went and come down Holly, it’s completely, visually, it’s completely different. You come to this corner, and I mean, it’s a ghost town,” said Peters.

Areas of the neighborhood still looks like a war-zone– houses remain vacant, boarded and covered in tarps.

Drew T. Bandy, an accounts executive for Lockeland Insurance Advisors, said there is a reason for the slow rebuilding process.”The coronavirus hitting, the destruction level, the power outage afterward, and then having to like get different approvals for buildings.”

The tornado went straight through the historic overlay in East Nashville. Permits are required in order to rebuild.

“We had to get a permit to tear the house down. We had to get a permit for the design, the exterior of the house. They want it to fit historically within the neighborhood,” Peter added.

Another delay, Metro’s Codes and Permits employees had to move to at-home offices. However, they have prioritized storm damage.

“Once they have their approval from their insurance company or they’re you know if they’re getting funds from FEMA, then they would come back to us. So to the extent that there still looks like quite a bit of rebuilding to be done, I think that’s just kind of the nature of a disaster like that, you’ve just got to work through the channels, but we’re certainly expediting them as quickly as we can,” said Emily Lamb, Chief Zoning Examiner, Metro Nashville Building Permits.

So far, the department has issued 104 permits related to storm damage in the historic overlay. There have been 35 homes demolished. Others choosing to sell and move. “A lot of the insurance companies are just paying out and the clients are just turning around and selling the lots as is,” said Bandy.

But not Peters, “This whole process up til now, like until the time we actually see construction like something actually go up instead of down, it’s sort of been this long grieving process.”

Peters hopes by August there will be progress on building a new home with a move-in date of 2021.
“I guess we like a good fight, maybe we’re just stubborn but we knew we loved it here, it felt like we had to rebuild.”

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

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