The storm entered Tennessee in the night. Its intensity was unexpected, and it cut across the landscape at 60 mph — fast for a supercell.
By the time the storm dissipated on March 3, 2020, 10 distinct tornadoes had touched down, causing chaos over more than 100 miles of Middle Tennessee.
The winds peeled open warehouse roofs, lopped off church steeples, blasted through cinderblock walls and snapped thousands of trees and power poles.
The tornadoes killed 25 people, destroyed more than 1,600 buildings — including more than 400 homes — and damaged some 2,700 others.
— Tony Gonzalez
The Disaster Year
The recovery would not be easy. The onset of the coronavirus pandemic complicated the efforts. And one year later, the recovery still feels piecemeal in many storm-damaged neighborhoods.
Some families and businesses have returned to their repaired and rebuilt places. Others are untouched — from homes left open to the elements, to a church where rooftop bricks still teeter, to a pair of Mt. Juliet schools that are just now beginning to look for a contractor.
To take stock of the recovery, WPLN News revisited survivors across the region. Our journalists found stories of sorrow, determination and hope.
WPLN’s storm anniversary coverage is informed by records from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Weather Service, and multiple departments and officials in Benton, Davidson, Wilson and Putnam counties, as well as the cities of Mt. Juliet and Cookeville. Aerial images are provided by Vanderbilt University researcher Daniel Perrucci.
The entire WPLN newsroom contributed to this coverage, which was overseen by Tony Gonzalez, with editing support from Emily Siner and Chas Sisk. Rachel Iacovone created the interactive map and Mack Linebaugh guided the digital presentation.