The aftermath of the Nashville tornado

Monday March 2nd, I was feeling absurdly tired and went to bed early. It was a nice night, popped the windows open, and passed out.

TL;DR – Paul’s been otherwise lazy with Android reporting while sorting this wind mess out and will return in a few days.

They’d been tracking a storm all night on one of the local channels, it was aiming north of Nashville and didn’t seem to be a concern.

Around midnight the tornado sirens kicked on. They seemed muted and due to Nashville having a 50 or so mile distance from siren to wherever the event is, many people didn’t pay much attention. It’s a system that’s being replaced so they only go off where people need warned, but it’s been false alarms nearly my entire life.

12:35am Tuesday March 3rd, my phone and my wife’s evidently kicked on an emergency alert. Neither of us heard it. The phones were 1 foot and 4 feet from the bed respectively. I’ve never slept through an alarm and neither drugs nor alcohol were involved.

At 4am I woke up because a gentle but heavy rain was causing a slightly annoying drip on the interior windowsill. I got up, closed the window, and went back to bed.

I woke up at 6:15. This is somewhat interesting as that’s the Nashville area code. I had an email that school was cancelled for my kiddos due to the tornado. I also had notification from my monitoring software that sometime around 3:30am was the last time my servers were seen.

I also had strange internet, I still had power, but something had caused the power supply to a POE switch of mine to fault… I had to unplug the power supply to get it to reset (unplugging the switch from the PS didn’t do anything) – it was strange. I’d been zapped somehow through a UPS.

Turned out later that my central unit was also zapped causing a contactor to fry along with a reversing valve to seize on a 16 year old unit, so yeah… new central… yay

I headed off to work while Kim held down the fort to see what had happened. I decided to take a chainsaw. This was a good idea.

The tornado came through around 1am somewhere between 800 and 1200 feet south of my work. UPSes held for a couple of hours after that. There were no traffic lights working when I got to work. I did a quick walk-around and noticed the emergency backup lighting generator was on and we had a few very tiny limbs down but nothing was damaged.

The call was made to work from home, I went to exit the building and there was a line of cars as far as the eye could see attempting to head east from my building’s area.

I went out the back route and managed to somehow get deep enough into the disaster zone I ran into the mayor.

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Mayor Cooper and a mess. This will be the extent of disaster tourism photos.

I’m guessing I spent 40 minutes to go two blocks. Side roads were universally blocked by things I was not going to touch (all power was shut off in the area to prevent people from dying, but I didn’t know this at that point.)

Finally came across a side street which was blocked, but matched my chainsaw and skill level, and I cut through it, and then another, and realized none of my batteries for the chainsaw were charged as it was winter and I’d lost a wingnut, and worked my way home four hours later.

The past week has been kind of bizarre. Being called in a few times to check if the power around us anywhere was on (it wasn’t,) trying to get the right information out to people, kids being out of school for 4 days, then the weekend.

There are a lot of people who need help, and with that there are a crap ton of vultures, scammers, and lowlifes streaming out of the sewers.

We Buy Houses people going door to door offering to buy destroyed properties, getting high rates of yeses due to a bunch of people not having insurance and seeing no way out.

People looking for free stuff that were nowhere near the path of destruction posting that they’re disabled, lost everything, etc. Facebook’s been full of them and many of the easily provable ones are getting piled onto by scam busting groups.

The stores were already low on necessities. People stockpiling for Covid-19… now a 60+ mile long path of tornado destruction and well meaning volunteers worked inadvertently to disrupt supply chains

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I wish I had a before picture, but it’s usually stocked to the top, and two or three pallets out into the aisle at this Costco

Now the chainsaw dudes needed the masks… but yeah…

I started getting calls from people who had heard I rented property. Telling me they’d lost everything and just trying to stay in Nashville. There’s some temp shelters and surrounding counties have been helping, but there’s no space available in a city that’s got next to zero inventory even in good times.

A couple of friends of friends were killed in their house. I think in all they’ve said 6-8 deaths in Nashville from the tornado and a couple of deaths that may end up being attributed to it after autopsy. There’s a line crossing slightly north of Nashville that extends really really far east.

There are a lot of people homeless at the moment, a lot of businesses closed. North Nashville, East Nashville, in a matter of minutes streets just destroyed. Cars lifted and thrown. Fine one street, the next houses just gutted.

It’s been kind of an unreal week. Should anyone care to help, Hands on Nashville has a list of ways you can, as well at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

People need labor and money at this point. There are pallets of water bottles and food stacked as high as can be, clothes are choking storage and dumpsters (sorry people, used underwear and smelly clothing isn’t useful).

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Places you don’t think about need help – department of children’s services is overwhelmed, first responders are working back to back shifts, people in areas where the power was out for days no longer have food, medical transport, phone chargers needing charged, all over the place odd needs.

Yesterday in the middle of this we got our first Covid-19 Coronavirus case. I’m told there’s no more Purell or Zinc in this town. People are posting pictures of empty shelves. Yay.

So yeah, that’s Nashville at the moment. Luckily it’s pretty mild today, but we did have 25 degrees a day or so after the tornado.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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