A powerful tornado hit Nashville and other parts of central Tennessee yesterday, killing at least 24 people, including five children under 13 years old, across four counties.
Twenty-one people remain missing, though officials have stated that many of these individuals might be unreachable due to widespread power outages, which are affecting thousands of people. Eighty-eight people were reported injured by local media outlets. Tennessee remains in a state of emergency.
Of the dozens of buildings that were damaged, one was Neighborhood Health’s Eastside Clinic in East Nashville, which endured the tornado at EF-3 strength, fueled by winds of over 160 miles per hour.
The tornado ripped the roof off the building and flooded the inside.
“It’s just sky now,” said Bianca Granger, COO of Neighborhood Health, which serves over 31,000 patients in the Nashville area annually. It is one of 30 Direct Relief partners in Tennessee. Recalling her reaction to first seeing the damage in photos, she said, “Wow, it’s pretty devastating.”
“Stuff inside was thrown around too, like chairs and cabinets.”
Granger said that a craft brewery, Smith & Lentz Brewing, which is situated next to the clinic, was also heavily impacted. One of its walls flew off and hit the side of the clinic.
She described the East Nashville neighborhood where the clinic is based as “culturally and socio-economically diverse” and has been home to a host of new condos and restaurants.
Though still assessing the full extent of the damage to its Eastside Clinic, which saw over 8,100 medical visits and 2500 dental visits last year, Neighborhood Health has 11 functioning sites and is actively reaching out to patients to make sure they are aware of alternative options for care. Granger said that they will be offering transportation to patients who need it as well. The closest clinic to the damaged site is about a mile away.
“Our business is still going to continue as is, and we’re going to make it work,” Granger said.
“It was something that I have never seen before, it was pretty devastating. It doesn’t compare to anything from last year, I’d compare it to the 2010 floods,” she said, referencing floods which killed 31 people in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi.
“There is definitely some sorrow and some people being sad, but the other thing is how the community is coming together to support each other… We’re going to come out of this stronger than before. There is a lot of support,” Granger said.