NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Residents in Nashville have begun assessing the damage after a tornado ripped through the city and surrounding areas early Tuesday morning, killing 24 people.
In East Nashville, where two people were killed and dozens of buildings were destroyed, Mary Odom recalled the moment she was forced to hold on to her front door as the tornado swept across and destroyed businesses.
"The sky was white. It was so quiet — I thought, 'something is coming,'" Odom said. "I ran into my hall closet to where my hot water heater was. The whole building was shaking… I had to literally pull the door closed for what seemed like hours."
The damage around the Five Points area of East Nashville is extensive. But that didn't stop Nashville residents from volunteering to help others clean up from the storm.
When Lane Wilson woke up Tuesday morning, he didn't think he would be spending his day cleaning up a downed tree.
"I work in an office so my car doesn't typically look like this," he said. "Let's see if we can get it knocked out."
Initially, Wilson started solo, working on an enormous downed tree in the yard of an East Nashville home. But within a matter of minutes, in came the cavalry.
"We rolled down our window and asked, do you need help, and he gave us these gloves and we started coming down the street," Perla Asarias, a student at Trevecca Nazarene University said.
She and her friend decided to come out to East Nashville after they saw all the destruction on social media.
"Neighbors help neighbors," said Joe Rebrovick, another volunteer that came out to help.
No one in the group knew the homeowners of the property they were cleaning. No one in the group works in East Nashville, and they don't even live there. They just saw a mess that needed cleaning up.
Backup arrived just in time. Some parts of the tree removal were far too complicated to be a one-man job. The owner of the home was tied up with insurance all morning long, but q friend said the strangers quite literally freed the homeowner from her house.
"I have no idea how they would do this otherwise," said Kelley Kirker, the homeowner's friend.
Wilson never pictured spending his day this way, but after seeing all the devastation, he also couldn't imagine staying home.
"I just feel like so many people need help, so we need to just get started," he said
This story was originally published by Laken Bowles and Chris Davis on WTVF in Nashville.