“It’s wild. It still hits me … when I tell people that the tornado went right through my house, right over me and my kids’ rooms,” says Dave Puncochar of the tornado that tore through Nashville last March. “It still brings me to tears.”
As we round out a full year since the devastating tornadoes that took down so much of Music City and parts east last year, the emotions are still raw — especially for those who were in the direct line of fire.
“Often, when I’m walking around the yard, I still find shards of glass and pieces of roofing shingles, half-buried in the dirt,” continues Dave, whose company, Good Wood Nashville, launched a Nashville Strong campaign immediately following the tornado and the onset of the pandemic to assist small businesses in need and to keep his own staff employed. “It’s all still a little overwhelming.”
It was in the wee hours of March 3, 2020, when an EF3 tornado barreled through Middle Tennessee, leaving a clear path of destruction in its wake; a second EF4 tornado hit areas further east. Remnants were all that remained in parts of North Nashville, Germantown, East Nashville and Mt. Juliet … corrugated metal tangled in tree limbs, insulation strewn about for miles, power poles snapped in half like toothpicks, even a triangular rooftop that looked as though it had been plucked off the building and placed purposefully on the ground beside it. The sights seemed unreal and were incredibly difficult to process. And yet, as the dark of night gave way to daylight, Nashvillians emerged, assessed the situation, and though shaken, they were ready to work.
“The memories of that night, the following day, and the weeks after will never be lost. Most of the moments were tragic and trying, but so many of them were beautiful, too,” says Alex Hendrickson-Kelly, whose then-fiancé/now-husband, Chad Kelly, lost everything when the tornado leveled his East Nashville home. “A gentleman handed out water and granola bars when we searched through the house, and I wish I hugged him. Some friends went back and uncovered the cast-iron skillet that belonged to Chad’s grandmother, other friends let us shower and eat dinner at their houses, and a stranger dug out our kayaks from the basement.”
From local volunteer clean-up teams to free meals from local restaurants to financial donations to blood drives — never has the #NashvilleStrong spirit been more on display. “My friends and neighbors and new friends and old friends and distant friends all over the world showed up and reached out,” says Dave. “I felt so overwhelmed by the support, and still am nearly brought to tears when I think of all the faces that showed up and told me that I was loved and that I was not alone.”
And so here we are one year later. Wounds are still healing, businesses are still rebuilding, and this city has also weathered a pandemic and the Christmas Day bombing. But we’re still here, and we’re still ready to help, ready to work, ready to do what Nashville does best. “Whatever cliche you hear about the community of Nashville is true. It is powerful and awe-inspiring and just what you need when you are in a moment of tragedy,” says Alex. “The biggest takeaway from the experience is that wounds don’t heal overnight. Families and business owners are still struggling from the damage, and I encourage you to find them and lend a hand.”
In an effort to continue supporting the Nashville community’s ongoing post-tornado rebuilding and recovery efforts, SB Shop is donating 10% of all profits from today’s sales of any product in The Nashville Collection to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Click here to learn more and shop!
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