The deadly tornado that tore through downtown Nashville early Tuesday morning flattened at least 40 homes and buildings. One of the city’s best known landmarks, however, just barely escaped destruction.
An “I Believe in Nashville” mural, which has become a favorite spot for a photo with visitors and locals alike, is painted on the side of a structure that was partly destroyed. Photos of the storm’s aftermath show a partially collapsed brick wall and a damaged wood patio next to the seemingly unharmed artwork, which is currently blocked with caution tape.
Many have noticed that the mural’s message of city pride and resilience seems even more poignant in the aftermath of the natural disaster.
“I’ll be honest, I tend not to believe in God . . . but I must say the fact that the Believe In #Nashville mural survived when the building didn’t feels like a sign. This city is strong,” wrote one twitter user of the music venue, called the Basement East and located at 917 Woodland St. Its Twitter account posted on Tuesday that while the building “sustained significant damage,” staff that had been inside were safe.
I'll be honest, I tend not to believe in God. I've had a long history with trying to find and losing religion and spirituality again and again, but I must say the fact that the Believe In #Nashville mural survived when the building didn't feels like a sign. This city is strong.— Chris Reitmeyer (@SomeKillerTofu) March 3, 2020
“This is the best metaphor I’ve seen for Nashville, from the Basement where I’ve spent some time… #IBelieveInNashville was always the motto and an intense feeling of community,” wrote another.
Tim McGraw shared his feelings about the artwork in a tweet on Tuesday, noting that it also became a rallying point for the city after devastating floods in 2010: “It’s stood as a symbol of resilience and togetherness. We are heartbroken for our community after last night’s tragic tornado, but we will rise up and rebuild again.”
The iconic “I Believe In Nashville” murals started popping up after the big flood ten years ago. It’s stood as a symbol of resilience and togetherness. We are heartbroken for our community after last nights tragic tornado, but know that together we will rise up and rebuild again! pic.twitter.com/WlDutCaHhw— Tim McGraw (@TheTimMcGraw) March 3, 2020
The painting, one of several matching murals scattered across the city, is by street artist Adrien Saporiti and features imagery inspired by the Tennessee state flag — a blue circle containing three white stars on a red background — seemingly mixed with the red-and-white stripes of the American flag.
The artist spoke to The Tennesseean about the piece in 2016. “It’s a positive apolitical piece of propaganda that serves no purpose other than to maybe bring people together,” Saporiti said of his design, which he also prints on t-shirts and other merch.
Reese Witherspoon Instagram
While he initially intended the design to be worn by locals who wanted to show their Nashville pride, his and other murals around the city are also a draw for tourists. “We’re showing people that there’s much more going on here than just cowboy boots and rhinestones,” he said.
The @IBelieveInNashville instagram account announced on Wednesday that they will be donating 100 percent of proceeds from t-shirts sold during the month of March to help with local tornado relief efforts including The Community Foundation of Middle TN for Disaster Relief.
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The first tornado was reported around 12:38 a.m. CST on Tuesday, moving east about 45 mph, the National Weather Service said. Two more touched down in Putnam County, about 100 miles east of Nashville.
Twenty five people are are now confirmed dead, the New York Times reported, and more are still missing.
“Nashville is hurting, and our community has been devastated,” Mayor John Cooper tweeted following the destruction. “Be sure to lend a helping hand to a neighbor in need, and let’s come together as a community once more.”
Other areas that have reported damage include Hermitage, Mt. Juliet and Germantown.