Tennessee In State Of Emergency After Tornadoes Pass


BAXTER, Tennessee, USA (AP) – Billy Dyer’s cell phone rang an emergency alert, his wife Kathy’s phone followed, giving them just enough time to go downstairs and turn on the TV to watch the news.

And then the tornado came.

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When the sun came up on Tuesday, the Dyers emerged and found that their bedroom walls were gone. His mattress hung from the headboard; all surrounded only by heaven.

“Thank God we had time to go down to the basement or we probably wouldn’t be here,” Dyer said.

Emergency officials in Tennessee reported that tornadoes left 24 dead and at least 21 missing. In Putnam County, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) east of Nashville, at least 18 people died, including five minors. Authorities said there are 88 wounded.

Nashville residents were awakened by sirens that alerted them to tornado danger Tuesday morning, and alarms also sounded in parts of Putnam County. But in the Dyer community, Double Springs, deep in rural Tennessee, there is no such system.

“If the phones didn’t have the emergency call, it wouldn’t have been good,” Dyer said.

The tornadoes that hit Tennessee after midnight Tuesday, ripped brick facades, bent metal posts and smashed more than 140 buildings, burying people under the rubble.

Dyer’s 34-year-old daughter, Brooke, managed to take refuge in the basement of a house and then “called me screaming and crying.” Moments after the tornado passed, he stepped out into the darkness and pulled his daughter out of the rubble.

Governor Bill Lee declared a state of emergency and sent the National Guard to assist with search and rescue. He also ordered that the flags in official buildings be flown at half-staff until Friday in memory of the victims. President Donald Trump, who plans to visit the devastated area on Friday, said on Twitter: “The USA is with the people of Tennessee 100%, for what they need!”

Police cordoned off parts of Putnam County and imposed a curfew from 8 pm to 8 am while the search continued on Wednesday.

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