Nashville, Tennessee – At least two tornadoes swept through some 40 buildings in central Tennessee early today, killing at least 19 people, authorities said. One of the tornadoes caused serious damage to downtown Nashville and left hundreds of people homeless.
Daylight revealed a bleak picture: collapsed walls and ceilings, broken electrical wires and large broken trees. Schools, courts and public transportation were closed and some voting centers were relocated just hours before the Democratic primary in the state.
The death toll jumped to 19 on Tuesday, Tennessee emergency management office spokeswoman Maggie Hannan said after police and firefighters spent hours rescuing survivors and recovering bodies from the destroyed buildings.RELATED
“Last night was a reminder of how fragile life is,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper said at a press conference Tuesday morning.
Residents of the historic Germantown neighborhood walked in dismay while emergency teams closed the roads. There were roofs torn from apartment buildings, large uprooted trees and rubble scattered on many sidewalks. With many torn walls, it was possible to see damaged rooms and kitchens from the street. There were shattered power lines and fallen trees on cars and streets, as well as lots of all kinds of debris.
killing at least 19 people, authorities said. One of the tornadoes caused serious damage to downtown Nashville and left hundreds of people homeless, said Governor Bill Lee. He ordered all non-essential state workers to stay at home. He took a flight in a helicopter to examine the damage.
The tornadoes were generated by a line of severe storms that extended from the vicinity of Montgomery, in Alabama, to western Pennsylvania.
In Nashville, a tornado swept through areas that were renovated by a recent construction boom. Germantown and East Nashville are two of the most modern neighborhoods in the city, with restaurants, music venues and high-end apartment complexes.
“The dogs began to bark before the sirens sounded, they knew what was coming,” said Paula Wade, a resident of East Nashville. “Then we heard a roaring sound … Something made me sit on the bed, and something flew through the window just above my head. If I hadn’t moved, I would have had a face full of glass.”
One of the tornadoes touched down in the center of the city and reportedly wreaked havoc on a strip about 16 kilometers (10 miles) away. It caused severe damage to the suburbs east of Nashville, Mt. Juliet, Lebanon, Hermitage and other locations.
“Our community has been severely impacted,” tweeted the Mt. Juliet Police Department. There were a lot of injured people and damaged homes, he added. “We keep looking for the injured people. Stay at home if you can, ”the department urged.
A video posted online from the east side of Nashville shows a clearly delineated tornado running through the city vertiginously. Lightning flashes in the dark and the roar of the wind is heard.
Photos of demolished buildings, tangled cables and structures reduced to rubble abounded in social networks. In a photo you can see part of a fence that fell on top of a car. Another showed a room with no ceiling or walls, so you could see boxes on shelves.
Police and firefighters went to some 40 collapsed buildings in the Nashville metropolitan area, authorities said.
John C. Tune Airport in western Nashville “suffered significant damage due to inclement weather,” spokeswoman Kym Gerlock said in a statement. Several of the hangars have been destroyed and the electric cables fell, he added, although he said there were no reports of injured people. He asked the inhabitants to stay away from the airport until further notice.