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Brutal twisters rip through central Tennessee overnight, killing at least 1
By Jessica Schladeb
People look over storm damage laid out in the streets of Nashville on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Nashville was struck with by two tornadoes on Monday night and into early Tuesday morning following heavy storms in the area. At least 19 people have been killed. (Mark Humphrey/AP)
At least two devastating tornadoes tore through central Tennessee, leaving a trail of death and destruction in the metro Nashville area and beyond early Tuesday morning.
Tennessee Department of Emergency Management Community Relations Officer Maggie Hannan confirmed that 19 people have been killed across four different counties, the Tennessean reported.
There have been at least two confirmed deaths in East Nashville, police said in a tweet just after 4 a.m. Another 14 people were killed amid the extreme weather just east of the city in Putnam County, according to a Facebook post from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.
“There’s a really good possibility there may be more,” Gov. Bill Lee said at morning press conference. “It’s early yet.”
The twister near downtown reportedly stayed on the ground into Hermitage, about 10 miles outside of Nashville. The fire department said it’s currently responding to reports of approximately 40 structures that have collapsedin and around the city.
Surrounding areas, including Mt. Juliet and Germantown are also facing significant damages, officials said.
“Our community has been impacted significantly,” the Mt. Juliet Police Department said in a tweet. “There are multiple homes damaged and multiple injuries. We have requested mutual aid from allied agencies. We continue to search for injured. Stay home if you can. Watch for downed power lines.”
Video shared online sees skies illuminated with lightning as what appears to be a well-defined funnel moves across the city. Other social media posts and images reveal the scope of the damage in wake of the twisters.
Streets downtown were left littered with debris and downed power lines, several homes were destroyed, and huge trees were completely broken early Tuesday morning.
Nashville Electric tweeted that four of its substations were damaged in the weather. As of 4 a.m., outages were affecting more than 44,000 customers, according to the utility company.
John C. Tune Airport, Nashville International’s sister airport in West Nashville, “sustained significant damage due to severe weather,” Spokesman Kim Gerlock said in a statement, noting that several hangars have been destroyed but that no injuries have been reported.
Parts of Tennessee State University’s campus were also damaged, but students are currently out on spring break. And a gas leak reportedly prompted an evacuation of the IMT building in Germantown.
Photos published by WSMV-TV show dozens of people carrying their belongings in the streets shortly after the tornado tore through the city.(Mark Humphrey/AP)
Tornadoes tear through Nashville following severe storms
Schools, courts and transit lines were also closed down and the locations of four Super Tuesday polling stations have been moved.
“Nashville is hurting, and our community has been devastated,” Mayor John Cooper tweeted.
“My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones. Be sure to lend a helping hand to a neighbor in need, and let’s come together as a community once more. Together, we will get through this and come out stronger.”
Authorities have urged residents in Nashville and the surrounding area to remain indoors while they continue to assess the damage.
The city’s emergency operations center has been activated and an emergency shelter set up. The American Red Cross said on Twitter that it has established a spot for displaced residents at the Nashville Farmer’s Market, just north of the state capitol.
The storm system was forecast to bring an isolated tornado, damaging winds and large hail, news outlets reported. Heavy rain was expected to impact Gulf Coast states over the next several days.