This article appeared in the March 12, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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'We Are Nashville': In tornadoes' wake, Volunteer State comes together

Mark Humphrey/AP
A group of volunteers moves items salvaged from a damaged home March 6, 2020, in Nashville, Tennessee. Residents and businesses face a huge cleanup effort after tornadoes hit the state March 3.
Eva Botkin-Kowacki
Science, environment, and technology writer

Today’s issue includes stories probing how coronavirus is shaping how Americans think about health care access, the power of presidential messaging in a time of crisis, the future of German politicsthe role of transparency in building trust, and 10 book recommendations for March.

Tony Gonzalez doesn’t know where they all came from, but the “roving bands of volunteers toting chainsaws” were a welcome sight last week. Tornadoes had just ripped through middle Tennessee, killing at least 24 people and destroying or damaging hundreds of homes and businesses. His East Nashville home was spared, but just a block away almost everything was destroyed. 

The tornadoes came in the predawn hours of Tuesday, March 3, and before the sun had even risen, neighbors were already helping one another. While reporting for The Tennessean, Emily West watched a neighborhood come together in the dark to free an older couple that had been trapped in their home by debris.

And it just continued from there.

“The volunteer and neighbor-to-neighbor response has been totally epic,” says Mr. Gonzalez, a reporter for Nashville Public Radio.

Starting that first day, people flocked in to help clear debris from homes and roads. Stations have been set up with supplies and food. Restaurants and food trucks – including some that sustained damage – have been giving away food. Over the weekend some 22,000 volunteers showed up to help.

 “I’ve always known that Nashville is giving and wonderful, and that we’re a place where neighbors help neighbors no matter what,” Ms. West says. “[But] I’ve never believed more in the statement that ‘We Are Nashville.’”

This article appeared in the March 12, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 03/12 edition
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