Tornadoes Devastate Nashville, Leaving at Least Nine Dead

Overnight, a deadly storm ripped through Tennessee, spawning at least two tornadoes. One of those tornadoes touched down near downtown Nashville, cutting a swath of destruction. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency confirms that at least nine people were killed.

Destruction in East Nashville

Around one a.m. on Tuesday morning, a tornado ripped through East Nashville–following a similar path the 1998 storm that long-time Nashville residents still remember. This time, the locals had only a few minutes’ warning before the storm touched down.

Amateur photo and video of the storm show strobe-like lightning strikes and widespread devastation as the EF-3 tornado swept through the city.

The tornado destroyed airplanes and hangers at the John C. Tune Airport and left multiple tractor-trailers overturned along Interstates 24 and 40. Locals were dismayed to find out that the Five Points neighborhood had been partially leveled. Popular businesses such as Basement East and Jack Brown’s were also destroyed.

The Nashville Fire Department reports that at least 40 buildings have collapsed throughout the city. Thousands of residents are without power, and emergency shelters have been opened.

Not Just Nashville

A second tornado touched down near the city of Cookeville, TN, about an hour after the Nashville tornado struck. Putnam County authorities confirmed that at least three people were killed as the storm leveled homes in Cookeville and Baxter.

Putnam County Sheriff Eddie Farris announced, “We have people missing, there are several homes flattened, so right now we are trying to establish a command post.” Farris is sending deputies door to door in a search for anyone who might be injured or trapped. Crews are also attempting to clear roads so that the search can continue safely.

In addition, the city of Mt. Juliet–roughly 20 miles from Nashville–has been hard hit. With ruptured gas lines and downed power lines everywhere, emergency responders are working quickly.

Mayor Speaks out, Voting Moves Forward

Early Tuesday morning, Nashville Mayor John Cooper took to Twitter, writing:

“Nashville is hurting, and our community has been devastated. 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.”

Despite the tragedy, Super Tuesday voting is still set to continue. Confusion has arisen, as some facilities used for voting are also designated emergency shelters.

How You Can Help

If you would like to help, the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee created a relief fund for people who lost their homes in the storm. The foundation will distribute the funds to nonprofits in the region. You can learn more and donate here.

In addition, the American Red Cross of Tennessee is asking for monetary donations–but they urge people not to send goods of any kind. “We know people are generous and want to do everything they can to help after a disaster,” they tweeted. “Our first priority is to provide shelter and support to those affected. We are not accepting donated goods, as it takes time and money to store, sort, clean and distribute donated items.”