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North Nashville neighborhoods rebuilt 2 years after the tornadoes

By Tosin Fakile

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    NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) — Two years after the March 2020 tornadoes, some can say it’s a rebuilt North Nashville.

The question for some neighborhoods of North Nashville was rebuild and stay or leave and sell? And two years later, it’s a tale of two neighborhoods in some parts of North Nashville.

On 16th Avenue near Cockrill Street, some homeowners and renters stayed, rebuilt, and fixed up their houses, while some homes on that street are brand new.

“My whole house was destroyed. I mean, we had to crawl out here,” said Sam Brown.

“The houses on Cockrill, I mean it was like, I don’t know how they’re top part got down on the bottom part,” said Derenda Giddens.

Memories from two years ago that these residents of North Nashville remember it like it was yesterday.

“The tree fell on this house and busted out these windows and the kitchen window,” said Giddens. “It did put a hole in her ceiling,” she added, describing the damage that happened to her mother’s house on 16th Avenue.

Giddens said her mother has lived at the house on 16th Avenue for ten years. She is renting the property. After the tornado, Giddens mother chose to stay and not move from the neighborhood.

So did Sam and Tina Brown, who rebuilt their home of over three decades.

“35 years I’ve been here, raised my kids here. I ain’t going nowhere. It took me that long to buy it so. I ain’t going nowhere,” Brown said.

He was standing along with his wife Tina Brown on the front porch of their rebuilt home on 16th Avenue.

“A sign right there saying don’t sell, won’t sell. We’re the owners. We plan to be here for the rest of our lives,” he added.

Not everyone was that lucky to stay. Several people sold their homes in North Nashville. Those sold old homes were rebuilt and remodeled, or new homes erupted.

“The house across the street, it’s an eight-bedroom and eight bath, I think it is an Air Bnb, it was a little two-bedroom house, but they sold it,” Giddens said.

“The neighbors who live right next to my mom. They were new here after the tornado. Because that was a house right there, now that house, it was nothing but the steps still there. And it was a big house. Now it’s a duplex,” she added.

“People lost their house. They couldn’t get it back, so they had to sell it for a little bit of nothing because they couldn’t put it back together. Some of them didn’t have any insurance. If they had insurance, it wasn’t enough,” said Brown.

News4 reached out to Metro Nashville Codes to find out how many building permits have since been issued in the North Nashville area along the storm’s direct path. The department reported 48.

Here’s a breakdown of which streets where Metro Codes issued building permits and how many:

“As you see, this was a house my house used to look like. Now, this is our house. It took a lot. I couldn’t afford a contractor, so I was my own contractor,” said Brown.

“I raised my kids here. This is a family house for all of us. So, we don’t give up the family house. Whatever it took to do it, we did it. We did it,” he added.

News4 asked Brown his thoughts on the “Rebuilt” North Nashville.

“It’s all right, but people lost their houses, and that’s how they got it,” Brown said. “Some people struggled all their life, but when the tornado hit, FEMA didn’t help any of them. So they had to move.”

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