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.’”
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