At least 24 people are now reported dead in the aftermath of Tuesday morning’s tornadoes.
The highest number of deaths happened in Putnam County, where at least 18 fatalities have been reported. Wilson County is reporting three fatalities; Davidson County has two; and Benton County has one.
State officials originally reported another fatality in Putnam County but released updated numbers Tuesday night.
Metro Police have also identified the couple who died in East Nashville as early-morning tornadoes ripped across Middle Tennessee. Michael Dolfini, 36, and his girlfriend, 33-year-old Albree Sexton, had just left Attaboy lounge on McFerrin Avenue when they were hit by debris.
The National Weather Service has been surveying the damage in the region and has determined that an EF-3 tornado touched down in Donelson, Mt. Juliet and the Five Points neighborhood of East Nashville. Winds reached up to 150-165 miles per hour in Donelson.
North Nashville was the site of an EF-2 tornado, with winds at 125 miles per hour. Putnam County will be surveyed first thing tomorrow morning, the National Weather Service says.
Damage has been reported over a swath stretching from Benton to Putnam County. WPLN reporters in the field Tuesday saw flattened buildings, roofs torn off, and power lines strewn about.
“Nashville is hurting, and our community has been devastated,” Mayor John Cooper said in an early-morning statement. “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.”
Vanderbilt University Medical Center says six adults and children are in their care at the main campus and 23 at Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital — all in stable condition. But they’re transporting two adults and one child in critical condition via LifeFlight from Cookeville.
Meteorologist Mark Rose with the National Weather Service says his team is working to navigate through road closures as it assesses the impact.
“We’ve got to go out and actually see and survey the damage. So we’re not able to assign a a rating to it just yet. That will come as we get all the data together,” he says.
A City Responding To Chaos
Metro Nashville Public Schools were closed on Tuesday and will be closed Wednesday as well. An emergency shelter was opened at the Centennial Sportsplex after an initial location, the Nashville Farmers’ Market, lost power.
Many evacuees were still in shock when they arrived at shelters. Samantha Barclay, a preschool teacher at Vanderbilt University, lives in apartments on Fourth Avenue and Jefferson Street. She says her building was severely damaged.
“The reality of it is just setting in there. Every now and then, I’m just like, ‘Yes, this really happened.’ And then I’m like, ‘OK, how am I going to deal with this?’ ”
Brandis Blodgett left her home in the Vista Apartments in Germantown.
“It sounded like a freight train, and we just ran. In the hallways, the roof started collapsing,” she said.
Nashville’s fire department says it’s responding to reports of approximately 40 structure collapses around Nashville.
About 43,000 buildings are still without power in Nashville, and the Nashville Electric Service says it’s bringing in extra crews from Kentucky, West Virginia and other parts of Tennessee. The utility says 20 primary power lines are down. They advise people to avoid downed power lines and storm debris.
The tornadoes hit hours before the final day of voting in the presidential primaries.
Many polling locations in the area have also been wrecked by the storm. In Wilson County, one middle school that was supposed to serve as a voter precinct is nearly demolished. But voting is continuing as normal, wherever it can.
The Davidson County Election Commission says some polling locations are closed and have been reassigned. See the latest updates here.
Nashville General Sessions courts are closed today, including traffic court.
According to news release sent by the Nashville International Airport, several hangars at the John C. Tune Airport in West Nashville were destroyed and power lines were down.
Going door to door with Rob Wolford, a volunteer with the office of emergency management. Checking on folks in hard-hit East Nashville. Across the street, part of East End Methodist collapsed. #tspotter pic.twitter.com/l5c7h1jNi5— Blake Farmer (@flakebarmer) March 3, 2020