Tornadoes touched down across Tennessee Tuesday, killing at least nine people and leaving an undetermined number missing, according to authorities. Tennessee is now under a state of emergency.
There are a number of people still missing across the state, according to officials. They would not provide a number of the missing on Tuesday morning, as search and rescue crews are still working. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said at a press conference that the number of fatalities will likely increase by the end of the day. “Last night is a reminder of how fragile life is,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper said at the press conference.
Tornado damage in Nashville early on March 3, 2020.
The devastation comes on the same day that Tennessee participates in the Super Tuesday presidential primary, when more than 30% of all delegates will be awarded. Officials said at a press conference Tuesday that the tornadoes damaged 15 out of 169 polling places.
Just hours before voting is set to begin, the state’s election commission has created alternative places for people assigned to the damaged polling locations to vote. Officials encouraged residents to check whether their polling place is affected. The tornadoes destroyed at least 48 buildings, and have 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.A video posted online from east Nashville showed what appeared to be a well-defined funnel moving quickly across the city. Lightning repeatedly flashed while much of the city was in the dark. The whir of the wind could be heard gusting after the tornado moved out of sight.
Moment of impact. Photojournalist Dan Blommel shot this video as a tornado hit Nashville this morning. Two people are sadly now confirmed dead. pic.twitter.com/SvZkKo2fZI— Chris Conte (@chrisconte) March 3, 2020
The city’s emergency operations center has been activated, and an emergency shelter is set up. Residents have been urged to avoid downed power lines, as some 74,000 homes and businesses were without electricity.Schools have been closed for the day but a majority of the polling stations for the Super Tuesday primary are staying open.The tornado that hit downtown Nashville reportedly stayed on the ground into Hermitage, a neighborhood about 10 miles east. The city’s historic Germantown neighborhood suffered significant damage. WTVF called that damage in the Nashville area “stunning.” Nashville Mayor John Cooper wrote on Twitter that the “community has been devastated.”
“Nashville is hurting,” he wrote. “… 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.”
Five Points area is devastated. Electric lines down, roofs blown off, water lines gushing, etc. A witness describes this as an “apocalyptic nightmare.” @NC5 pic.twitter.com/vfuxB7Ub9V— Matthew Torres (@NC5_MTorres) March 3, 2020
Parts of Tennessee State University’s campus were damaged by a tornado, but the school is on spring break. A reported gas leak forced an evacuation of the IMT building in Germantown, according to WSMV-TV. Photos showed dozens of people in the street carrying their belongings not long after the tornado moved through the city. Governor Lee said on Twitter that the state “has activated a strong coordinated response effort to last night’s devastating storms.””In the hours ahead, we will continue deploying search and rescue teams, opening shelters across the state, and sending emergency personnel to our communities hit hardest.”