Residents who lost their homes in December tornadoes struggle to rebuild

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Inflation is hitting Middle Tennesseans hard. Those already struggling after their homes were destroyed in December’s tornadoes said rising prices made rebuilding nearly impossible.

It’s been three months since the tornadoes happened, and some homeowners have said they believe they will now be much further along in the recovery process.

“It’s sickening that three months later we’re here,” said owner Kimberley Watson.

Watson described his property on Murrell Road as a war zone.

“I still don’t have a home,” Watson said. “I’m still no closer to having a home.”

WSMV 4 first spoke to Watson in December. She got a black eye after taking refuge in her bathtub during the tornado. His house, which was nearly paid for, was destroyed. “I deal with PTSD whenever tornadoes or heavy rain or wind is mentioned,” Watson said.

On top of that trauma is the struggle to try to rebuild that economy.

“It happened at the worst time,” Watson said.

Watson said the prices are astronomical. For example, she said their framing would normally cost $30,000. Now it’s going to be $100,000. It will cost at least triple to rebuild the house they once had. It was insured but not for what it costs today to build it.

“We came in on a budget, and we’re probably $50,000 to $70,000 more than we thought,” Watson said. “We don’t know if we can afford it or not.”

Watson’s longtime boss and friend, Jamey Pendergrass, is his contractor. Even working in the industry, she’s still in the same boat as everyone else. Pendergrass said it now costs $100 more per square foot to build than it did a year ago, and he said there’s no end in sight.

“They’re going to keep going up,” Pendergrass said. “With fuel prices now rising on top of what we had, we now get daily fuel surcharges.”

Pendergrass said price estimates, which he said were stable, now change weekly. Watson said that at a time when she should be considering retirement, she borrows from the bank and starts over, doing whatever she can to make ends meet.

“I’m trying to save every penny we can to go back to this house and pray that we don’t get into debt,” Watson said.

Watson said she received a lot of help from the Dickson County Help Center, but FEMA denied her request because she has insurance.

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