Nashville, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee State University is home to not only students, but animals, who are a part of the schools agriculture department.
It’s been exactly one year since tornado’s tore through Middle Tennessee and the surrounding area. The intense storm took place overnight, leaving many staff members worried about the safety of the animals.
While some knew a storm was coming, what they all agree on, is no one knew how strong it would be.
It has been quite the journey for one-year-old Gracie, or how Dr. Glenda Glover, President of TSU, likes to call her, “this is tornado.”
Back in March of 2020, News 2 talked to a TSU professor just moments after he rescued Gracie’s mother who was stuck under debris that had flown off from the storm.
Later that day, she gave birth and her baby now serves as living proof there is life after the tornado. Gracie’s mother has since died.
“The silos which had been here for 50 plus years were destroyed, our office was completely demolished, and the middle part of our farm was completely gone,” said Emily Hayes, a Research Assistant with the TSU Agriculture Department.
Gracie is just one of many animals who are part of the rich history found at TSU, which was founded as an Agriculture and Industrial school.
“This was a major catastrophe something that hit our university. When you level a whole agriculture complex that’s significant,” explained Dr. Glover.
Looking at the animals, Dr. Glover is reminded of that very day, when several buildings were destroyed, adding up to millions of dollars in damages.
“I live on campus and I had to run to safety myself. Rushing, and jumping to a safe spot with a quilt and a pillow and a cell phone,” said Dr. Glover. She says when the storm hit, the first priority was on the students who remained on campus. Most of them had left campus for Spring Break.
She can laugh about the whole situation now, as she thinks about how far the school has grown since the tornado. She says looking out at the Agriculture farm, the buildings that once stood on campus are no longer there, and damage still remains on the ones that withstood the storm.
In the days following the storm, hundreds of people from all over Tennessee and across the United States, came together on TSU’s campus to help with clean-up efforts. Governor Bill Lee, among state leaders who visited the campus to survey the damage.
Dr. Glover says the university is hopeful to have buildings up and operational in 2021. She explained, when the pandemic hit, it added another layer of obstacles in trying to rebuild.