The FINANCIAL – The devastation came overnight on the day Tennessee participated in the Super Tuesday presidential primary. East Nashville residents only had 6 minutes to prepare and get to safety. The tornadoes destroyed at least 48 buildings and left about 50,000 customers without power. While the “damage is devastating,” residents are already stepping up to help their community.
An EF-3 tornado with winds up to 165 mph tore across the Nashville area early Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. At least 24 people died in four counties because of the storms, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. Some of the dead were children, officials said. Dozens more were missing. By midday, it became clear that the storms were the deadliest in Tennessee since at least 2011. Governor of Tennessee declared a state of emergency as hundreds of thousands of residents grappled with no power, disrupted gas and water lines and impassable roads. Jeff Roberts, the election administrator for Davidson County, said that as many as 15 polling sites throughout the county were relocated and that others without power received generators. Election workers were also affected, according to The Washington Post.
The tornado touched down north of downtown Nashville shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday and then destroyed several buildings in Germantown. From there, the storm moved to the east, pounding the Five Points area of East Nashville and surrounding neighborhoods. The storm continued its eastward path, hitting Donelson, Mt. Juliet and Lebanon County particularly hard. The storm then continued to the east, moving into Putnam County. In Putnam County, located more than 50 miles east of Nashville, 77 people were still missing, Putnam County leaders said at a Tuesday night press briefing. It’s unclear how many of the missing people could be injured; many disasters have missing persons who eventually turn up unharmed. Power outages in the regions where the twisters struck could also be hampering efforts for officials to find missing people, USA Today reported.
The devastation came overnight on the day Tennessee participated in the Super Tuesday presidential primary when more than 30% of all delegates were up for grabs. Officials said at a press conference Tuesday that the tornadoes damaged 15 out of 169 polling places. Just hours before voting was set to begin, the state’s election commission created alternative places for people assigned to the damaged polling locations to vote. Officials encouraged residents to check whether their polling place was affected. The tornadoes destroyed at least 48 buildings and left about 50,000 customers without power, according to officials. One tornado ripped through downtown Nashville and hit the city’s CBS affiliate, WTVF directly, CBS News wrote.
Ahead of the destruction, East Nashville residents only had 6 minutes to prepare and get to safety, according to the Tornado Warning for Davidson county. “I got the warning and in less than ten minutes you could just feel the pressure, my ears were popping we all ran downstairs and just huddled together,” Danielle Theophile told CNN affiliate WSMV. “It went by so fast…it’s gone.” It wasn’t immediately clear how many tornadoes struck the region, as the same tornado might have hit multiple areas, the weather service said. Tornadoes were reported several times along a 145-mile stretch. Those suffering the damage aren’t doing so alone; strangers and neighbors have come together assisting one another, CNN wrote.
While the “damage is devastating,” residents are already stepping up to help their community, according to Nashville Mayor John Cooper. He said the website for Nashville volunteer organization Hands On Nashville has crashed three times from so many people trying to sign up to volunteer. More than 5,000 people signed up by Tuesday afternoon, he said, according to ABC News.