Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy was joined on the newsmakers line live from East Nashville by Fox 17’s Nikki Junewicz.
During the second hour, Junewicz gave a 360-degree view of what she saw in the Five Points area of East Nashville this morning after a EF3 tornado made a deadly trek through the city ultimately destroying areas of the historic neighborhood. She described the scene as haunting and devastating.
Leahy: A tornado swept through Middle Tennessee last night. Nine dead and two in East Nashville. We are joined now by Nikki Junewicz of Fox 17 reporting live from East Nashville. Nikki, what can you tell us about the damage there?
Junewicz: Yes. Good morning. The damage is quite frankly hard to describe. A lot of folks were out here in the Five Points area. Many of them waking up and seeing this damage for the first time. You can tell, it’s hard for them to believe their eyes.
As you all know, East Nashville is one of the more historic parts of the city. A lot of these gorgeous old homes are just destroyed this morning. I mean we’re talking about chunks of bricks flying off the roofs.
Porches caving in. Insulation and siding, bricks all strewn throughout the streets that are impassable. Many of them have been closed off to traffic. A lot of the trees came crashing down on top of power lines here.
Not only cutting off power to this entire area but also making it really dangerous as these lines are draped across the pavement. As we’ve been reporting right now there are nine fatalities associated with this storm in the state of Tennessee.
Two of those we’re reported here in East Nashville. I’m sure many of our listeners know East Nashville is known as a unique place in our city. It has a lot of cute bars and restaurants and shops and places to hang out. And a lot of those places are unrecognizable and borderline non-existent this morning. We talk about places like Boom Box Pizza. Burger Up is essentially leveled.
Leahy: Burger Up in East Nashville is leveled?
Junewicz: Yes. It does not have a roof. Yes. What really strikes me is how powerful these winds were. We’re talking wind speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. It’s almost like it just sawed it off. The line is just so clear. And I think that’s what’s really hard for a lot of these people. It’s not only the tragic loss of life but also these loved family-owned businesses that let’s just say they have a long way to go to recovery.
Leahy: So you’re in the Five Points area in East Nashville. On what exact street and intersection are you right now Nikki?
Junewicz: I’m on 11th Avenue here just South of Woodland Street.
Leahy: 11th Avenue just South of Woodland Street. Is the power out or on in those areas from what you can tell?
Junewicz: The power is completely out. My understanding is that tens of thousands of people throughout the Nashville-Davidson County area are in the dark right now. And they have been all night. I’ll tell you, I live downtown, my power went out at around 11:45 p.m. or so. So that’s the reality here and I’ve seen restoration crews out and trying to work on this. But I feel like it’s going to be a really long time.
Leahy: What level of visibility do you have as you look out to the damage? Can you see well? Is there enough light there now or is it still pretty dark?
Junewicz: There is enough light out there, yes. The sun is up and it’s almost been haunting to see people coming out of their homes and just taking a look at this. You can tell they are just pretty heartbroken.
Leahy: Give us a visual description of a 360-degree view from where you are located right now. Just describe what you see.
Junewicz: Of course. So I’m in more of a residential area. When I look straight in front of me I see the road and the road is covered with debris. We’re talking about siding, bricks, insulation, you name it. It is just strewn all about the pavement.
Some of it I will tell you, it’s hard to even figure out what it is. It is just unrecognizable. We have lots of branches and trees that are down. I’m taking a look now and I just noticed that a light pole that was split right now the middle. It just looks like a stick now.
Looking to my right here. Oh, this is just really incredible. We have a tree that came down into the side of somebody’s porch. It looks like honestly, I’m having a hard time making out what this is.
It looks like siding that is slammed up against and in between two homes. And then there is insulation that’s sort of pushing out from it. I see a car and thank God nobody was in it. There is a power line that is going straight through the windshield.
Leahy: Straight through the windshield?
Junewicz: Yes. And we’re also seeing as well here, right now if you flashback five hours ago and this was truly a ghost town. A lot of people may have been woken up in the night. If the storm didn’t come directly through their area chances are that maybe they went back to sleep, and they were not aware that it was this bad until right now.
What I’m seeing a lot of right now is people out here on their cell phones and walking their dogs. They are walking through all of this and taking pictures. They look like they can’t believe it.
Leahy: Nikki Junitz, Fox 17. Thank you for that on sight report of the damage in East Nashville. We really appreciate. Perhaps we can get you on back on the seven o’clock hour. I know you’re very busy. Thank you for that report from East Nashville.
Listen to the second hour:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Nashville Tornado” by Anthony Heggie.