Nashville Marines support tornado recovery efforts

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Lakezia Ortiz, left, a recruiter from RSS Hendersonville and Capt. Kyle Cawthon, executive officer at RS Nashville, secure tarps on top of the roof of a damaged home in North Nashville, March 5, 2020. The Marines worked with local authorities and volunteers to assist with the clean-up and recovery efforts in the local area after severe storms and tornados blew across Middle Tennessee on March 3rd, 2020, which caused death, injury and widespread property damage. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Devin Phommachanh)
March 09, 2020

NASHVILLE – Sirens sounded across Middle Tennessee late Monday evening through early Tuesday morning. Several tornadoes ripped across a 145-mile stretch, at least one traveling over 50 miles after touching down March 2-3, 2020.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper declared a State of Emergency immediately following an assessment of areas affected by the tornados that caused death, injury and widespread property damage in multiple counties.

Major Kevin Nicholson, Recruiting Station Nashville commanding officer, encouraged the Marines of Recruiting Station Nashville and its sub-stations to make time to support the clean-up and recovery efforts of the affected areas.

“A lot of Marines that live around here were not directly affected, but we all know someone that was,” said Nicholson. “We ceased daily operations and mobilized 25 Marines to local areas around Nashville to give a helping hand.”

Recruiting Sub-Station Mount Juliet was near the path of one of the tornados and was left without power for four days.

Local authorities and volunteers worked tirelessly to respond to emergency situations and coordinate search parties. Much of the neighborhood damage was considered non-emergency, however broken trees further threatened to fall on already damaged power lines.

Marines and poolees from Mount Juliet volunteered alongside Samaritan’s Purse on Tuesday March 4th. Working together with other volunteers from the area, they cut and removed fallen trees and debris, including from the home of a Vietnam POW veteran.

Marines from Recruiting Sub-Stations in Clarksville, Hendersonville and the Nashville headquarters office volunteered with Zeal Church in North Nashville. Teams of volunteers worked together to nail tarps on top of roofs with holes, cut fallen trees, clear large pieces of debris, and distribute food and supplies to residents.

“We are everyday people that want to help the communities we live in,” Recruiting Station Nashville Sergeant Major, Sergeant Major Rena Bruno said. “The Marines are a part of the cities they work in, here to support the person to the left and right.”

Cleaning, donation, distribution and repairing efforts by professionals and local volunteers aided in the swift recovery of damaged property and affected cities of Tennessee. On March 8th, Metro Nashville Public Works reported that 76 of the 116 roads that were initially closed as a result of the tornado had reopened.

Many of the volunteers are traveling from surrounding counties to support their neighbors, highlighting Tennessee’s nickname once again as The Volunteer State.