Correction: A previous version of this story reported that Lebanon’s police department had discovered another person killed in the storm. On Friday, the department confirmed that the death was reported incorrectly. This brings the fatality count down to 24.
The tornado that ripped through Putnam County had wind speeds up to 175 miles per hour. The National Weather Service surveyed the damage today and classified it as an EF-4 tornado. They called it the first “violent tornado” in the Nashville area since April 10, 2009.
In other areas, the tornado — or tornadoes — were classified this way:
- John C Tune area: EF-2 (130mph)
- Germantown/North Nashville: EF-2 (125mph)
- East Nashville/Five Points: EF-3 (136-140mph)
- Donelson: EF-3 (160-165mph)
- Mt. Juliet: EF-3 (155-160mph)
- Lebanon in Smith County: EF-1
“Looks like it’s quite possible we have one to maybe two long-track tornadoes across Davidson, Wilson, and Smith Counties. In the coming days, we will determine if these tornado paths are actually one/two tornadoes,” NWS tweeted Tuesday.
Putnam County is still trying to understand the damage from yesterday’s tornadoes that ravaged parts of Cookeville and surrounding communities and killed 18 people. As of Wednesday evening, three people are still reported missing.
So as residents start to clean up, the official focus is on looking not for things, but also for people. Search-and-rescue crews are sweeping piles of debris.
About 37,000 remain without power this afternoon across three counties. Some may not be back on the grid until next week.
Nashville Electric Service is contending with 600 broken poles — three times as many as the 1998 tornado. NES president Decosta Jenkins says repairing three damaged substations — Van Buren, MetroCenter, and Hermitage — are a high priority.
“We believe we’ll have … most, if not all, of that done by Friday,” he says. “Then after that, it’s a matter of circumstances, as you might imagine. If all goes well, most that can receive power will have power by Monday.”
Other high priority repairs include restoring power to a city water treatment plant, Summit Hospital and a line into the Cockrill Bend area, home of the heavily damaged John C. Tune airport. Nashville alone has more than 30,000 outages. There are more than 3,000 each in Wilson and Putnam counties.
Nashville International airport was left “unscathed” by yesterday’s tornadoes, but the smaller John C Tune airport was “devastated.” Early estimates say damage to infrastructure alone are around $93 million. That number does include more than 90 aircraft destroyed by the storms. The site in northwest Nashville is considered the busiest general aviation airport in the state with many of its customers corporate and private planes. It’s also operated by, and serves as a as a reliever airport for, BNA.
Nashville’s District Attorney says anyone caught looting in places hit by yesterday’s deadly storms will be “prosecuted vigorously.”Glenn Funk issued the statement Wednesday, offering condolences to anyone who suffered a loss but a warning to those would take advantage of tragedy.
Metro police have kept up a presence in hardest hit by the storms. Chief Steve Anderson says no looting or civil disorder arrests have been made so far.
Recovery assistance for those impacted by yesterday’s deadly storms is coming from all over the state, including areas untouched by tornadoes.
Franklin’s downtown visitor center will serve as a drop-off point for nonperishable food items and reusable bags.The Tennessean reports the nonprofit One Generation Away will use the items to create pop up food pantries in the most affected areas.
A Knoxville restaurant made famous by Reader’s Digest and Good Morning America is helping feed victims. The owner of Yassin’s Falafel House has partnered with Muslim groups in Murfreesboro and Nashville to provide hot meals. Yassin Terou tells the Knoxville News Sentinel that as a Syrian refugee he knows the “feeling of having to leave your house and everything behind without notice.”
Jason Moon Wilkins and Tony Gonzalez contributed to this report.