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A Look Back at the East Nashville Tornado in March 2020

With everything that has happened in 2020 thus far, it is hard to remember some of the events that occurred earlier this year.


For many East Nashville residents, life is still nowhere near normal. Not only did they have the COVID-19 pandemic to manage, but they also had to recover from a devastating tornado that took many homes right off of their foundation.

Here’s a look back at what happened.

The Storm Killed Over 20 People

A powerful, fast-moving storm cut through Tennessee during the early hours of the morning. Wind speeds reached 165 mph. The eventual death toll reached more than two dozen, with at least five of those fatalities being children in Putnam County.

Among those lost in the storm were the Kimberlin family. Joshua, Erin, and their two-year-old son Sawyer were killed when the tornado leveled their family home. Described as people who lived for God, many friends and neighbors said that they wanted to be parents just like them.

Leisha Rittenberry was only 28 years old. Her friends described her as being a karaoke expert, which was a hobby she shared with her father. Their family loved sharing videos with one another over TikTok.

Michael Dolfini and Albree Sexton had just moved to East Nashville from California. They came because they wanted to open a restaurant together. That dream ended near the intersection of McFerrin and Main. They were called “gentle, good people” by those who knew them.

Hattie Collins was only four years old. The rest of her family was able to survive, although they were all injured in the tornado. Those who knew them said that Hattie loved being a big sister. She was sweet, kind, and the best of humanity.

Carl Frazee died while saving his partner in their mobile home. His daughter called him a hero

James and Donna Eaton celebrated 58 years together in 2020. Their grandson said that their relationship was the best example of what a marriage could be.

We can rebuild homes and businesses. We cannot replace people. When we look back at events like the East Nashville tornado, we must remember these lives.