Metro officials are saying that nearly 400 homes and 184 businesses were destroyed, with those numbers expect to continue to rise as inspectors work their way through the disaster zone.
The storm is now thought to have cut a 52-mile path of destruction through Middle Tennessee. Wind speeds reached as high as 175 mph in Putnam County and 165 mph in Davidson, and the National Weather Service has now identified four distinct tornadoes.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper says Tuesday’s tornado followed a path through the city very similar to the 1933 and 1998 tornadoes, with the Five Points section of East Nashville taking a hit in all three.
But, he says, three times more utility poles were damaged in this storm than in 1998, with the highest number in North Nashville. He says that will delay the recovery.
“Metro’s response and recovery efforts continue around the clock,” Cooper told reporters at a press conference Thursday morning. “But our work is cut out for us.”
Health officials are also urging people who’ve lost power to throw out any food that might be spoiled.
“We don’t want anybody to get sick unnecessarily at this particular time,” said Dr. Michael Caldwell, Nashville’s health director.
An additional public shelter has been opened at the Smith Springs Community Center. Shelters are also open at the Centennial Sportsplex, East Magnet High School and the Hadley Park Community Center.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee submitted request for emergency federal funds, and President Donald Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the emergency status on Thursday night for Davidson, Putnam and Wilson counties.
Information and an online application is available at disasterassistance.gov.
Trump is expected to survey the damage on Friday.
Once a federal disaster declaration is finalized, Cooper says, homeowners will be able to apply for $200,000 to replace and repair their homes. Renters and homeowner can borrow up to $40,000 to replace personal property, from clothing to cars. Some business owners will also be eligible for loans.
Cooper also addressed the Metro Council on Thursday night, saying the recovery has shown the city at its best — although there is more hard work to come.
“We should remind our neighbors that resources will be made available to help them repair and rehabilitate. They should not feel pressure to leave their neighborhoods. More help is on the way,” Cooper said.
City departments have been told to document their efforts. And the nonprofit Hands Nashville says it is counting all volunteers and their hours as part of Metro’s eventual application for federal reimbursement.
Cooper also announced he’ll revise this year’s capital spending plan to address emergency infrastructure needs after the tornado.
Metro Public Works is urging cleanup crews to leave debris at curbsides after separating it into three groups: “white goods” such as household appliances, construction material such as windows and lumber, and vegetation including brush, limbs and other yard waste.
WPLN News’ Emily Siner and Tony Gonzalez contributed to this report.