Local reaction to Christmas Day Nashville explosion

Published: Dec. 26, 2020 at 9:45 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Just one day removed from an explosion that rocked downtown Nashville, a city searches for answers, and residents, some with ties to the Rockford region, express concern.

“It’s unreal like why Nashville?” Former Rockford resident and current Nashville resident Rebecca O’Sullivan said.

It’s a question that burns through the minds of those in the music city, as officials search for answers residents search for words to explain how they feel.

“It’s just a really unsettling situation,” Former Rockford resident and current Nashville resident Rebecca Nunes said.

“Initially it’s extremely heartbreaking,” Former Rockton resident and current Nashville resident Anthony Billups said.

Billups went to Hononegah High School, he moved to Nashville to pursue a music career after college. Billups says he once worked on the same block where the explosion happened.

“The last 16 years I’ve been in Nashville, I’ve lived down there, I live two blocks from there,” Billups said. “I worked at the old Spaghetti Factory which the front of it’s probably destroyed because it’s right across the street.”

Billups says he knows many people who live close to 2nd Ave. in downtown Nashville. O’Sullivan is just a handful of miles away from the downtown district, she says much of her community felt the effects of the blast.

“We started reading the Next Door app and people here, where we live actually heard it and felt it,” O’Sullivan said.

Reports out of the music city say more than 40 buildings have been impacted much of which are some of the oldest structures in the downtown district.

“Some of those buildings have been around since the late 1800s,” Billups said.

O’Sullivan and Billups say one of their biggest concerns is the small businesses that suffered damage.

“The city has been through so much from the tornadoes to COVID so it just really breaks my heart for the city,” O’Sullivan said.

O’Sullivan, Billups, and Nunes agree the community will recover.

“In Nashville and Tennessee, things like this galvanize the community, and it’s what can I do to help, how can I help,” Billups said.

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