Today marks one year since an EF-3 tornado ripped through Nashville. Truthfully, things haven’t felt the same since. One of the biggest changes we’ve noticed at the office is an increase in anxiety whenever a severe weather rolls through. As we prepare for another spring of hail, rain, and tornadoes, we wanted to share how our team is coping with storm anxiety. We’d also like to talk about how things have changed since March 3rd, 2020.
Trauma and Storm Anxiety from the Nashville Tornado
We write a lot of blogs about PTSD and sub-acute trauma: ongoing emotional responses to negative stimuli. We’ve found that whenever you read a list of traumatic events, natural disasters always make the cut. These overwhelming, distressing experiences cause widespread devastation, but they also prime us for a lifetime of anxiety.
A year later, the first springtime storms have arrived, and Nashvillians are wondering if, when, and how tornadoes might make an appearance. Some people compulsively refresh the weather radar, while others are glued to the news.
Here’s what we’ve learned about managing storm anxiety.
Preparation is key.
Planning can help you to take some control in the face of a storm. Stock up on flashlights, batteries, and other disaster preparedness items. If you know the weather will be bad, charge your devices ahead of time. Finally, be sure that your family has a plan for where to go in the event of a tornado or flood.
Stay informed (but don’t obsess).
Staying up to date on weather changes is key, but you also shouldn’t spend the day anxiously watching the radar. Sign up for weather alerts from services like NashSevereWx. By turning on notifications instead of doomscrolling, you’ll receive major updates without having to constantly obsess over minor developments.
You’re not the only one who’s worried! Reach out to friends, family, and neighbors if your storm anxiety begins to rise. You can discuss your feelings until you feel better.
Focus on your emotional well-being.
Large-scale weather events raise a great many concerns – it’s common to be distressed about the possibility of property damage and personal danger, especially after the 2020 tornado. As storm season approaches, try to find ways to self-soothe your storm anxiety. For example, breathing exercises and weighted blankets have both been found to reduce anxiety symptoms.
Distract yourself from storm anxiety.
Finally, if you can’t stop worrying, find something fun to do until the storm passes. Scavenger hunts, crosswords, snacks, music, pets, exercise, movies, and video games – all of our favorite pandemic activities – can take your mind off the weather.
Nashville’s New Tornado Warning System
In the wake of last year’s tornado, there have also been some significant upgrades to Metro Nashville’s tornado warning system. The Nashville Office of Emergency Management worked in conjunction with Commtech Radio, Federal Signal, and Metro Information Technology Services to add 20 new siren sites.
The system itself has also been modified for the better. Previously, when one siren went off, every siren in the county activated, too. This resulted in widespread confusion throughout Davidson County – just because a tornado passed through Bellevue, for example, did not mean that East Nashvillians were in its path at that moment. Another consequence of this broad warning system was that citizens began to ignore sirens after so many irrelevant alerts.
The upgraded PATSS (Polygonal Alerting Tornado Siren System) will now issue warnings to potentially impacted areas, without regard to political boundaries, at the proper time. We hope that information about this advanced warning system will reassure our fellow East Nashville residents that, if a tornado touches down, we should be alerted this time.
Local Businesses Rebound After Disaster
It hasn’t been an easy year for small businesses. The 2020 tornado, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the February winter storm have all resulted in temporary and permanent closures throughout East Nashville. Here’s an update on which businesses have reopened – we ask you to consider supporting them on the anniversary of the tornado.
Noble’s Kitchen & Beer Hall – After closing for five months for repairs, Noble’s has reopened. “Our margins are super thin, given everything that’s going on,” manager Nicholas Gajewski said in an interview with News Channel 5. “If we can break even on a given week, we’re excited.”
High Garden Tea – East’s favorite heirloom herbal and tea craft storefront has moved online in the wake of last March. “No walls, most business possessions gone, but the earth was still beneath our feet… We created an online shop to support our family and y’all did the thing! When walls crumble, you do get a better view. Here’s to 2020 – one of our most influential teachers,” wrote owner Leah Larabell in a recent Instagram post.
The Basement East – Freshly repaired but closed due to COVID, The Beast has switched up its approach to concerts. You can now attend virtual (live streamed) shows from the comfort of your own home or purchase tornado relief merch from their website. “I am ready to get back to doing the job that I love, with the people I love, in the city that I love,” said Billy Marchinkevich, an employee of The Basement East, in an interview with News4 Nashville. “I survived that, and we all survived it.”
Reopened: Boombozz (coming soon), Gym5, Edley’s Bar-B-Que East, Attaboy Nashville, GReKo, Poppy & Monroe, Koi Sushi & Thai, 3 Crow Bar, Music City Vintage.
Continuing / Permanent Closures: Burger Up (East), Molly Green (East), The Soda Parlor, Marche Artisan Foods, Eastland Cafe, Setsun.
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