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Tornadoes Kill 19 People Across Four Tennessee Counties

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency confirmed that 19 people are dead after a tornado touched down in Nashville in the early morning hours Tuesday morning. Forecasters said more storms could be on the way.

by The Tennessean, Oak Ridger, Oak Ridge, Tenn. / March 3, 2020
Residents walk through downed utility lines and trees to survey damage caused by one of several tornadoes that tore through the state overnight on March 3, 2020 in Cookeville, Tenn. At least 19 people were killed and scores more injured in storms across the state that caused severe damage in downtown Nashville. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images/TNS

(TNS) — A powerful and deadly storm moving through Middle Tennessee spawned a tornado that touched down in Nashville in the early morning hours Tuesday morning, cutting a swath of destruction that stretched through the city for miles.

Tennessee Emergency Management Community Relations Officer Maggie Hannan confirmed that 19 people are dead.

In Putnam County the number of deaths have risen to 14.

"There's a really good possibility that there may be more," Lee said. "It's early yet."

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency had confirmed 8 deaths earlier: Two people died in Wilson County, four in Putnam, one in Davidson and one in Benton counties, according to TEMA community relations officer Maggie Hannan.

Nashville police reported that two people were killed in East Nashville.

Authorities in Putnam County confirmed at least three deaths in a Facebook post.

"At approximately 2:00 a.m. CST," the agency wrote. "One confirmed tornado touched down between the city limits of Cookeville and Baxter. We have confirmed deaths possibly of 3 or more."

In Benton County, Sheriff Kenny Christopher confirmed that one person died from the storm.

The extent of the storm's physical damage was jarring - even before the sun rose Tuesday morning - and forecasters said more storms could be on the way.

At least 40 structures collapsed around the city, according to the Nashville Fire Department. In addition, windows were blown out and powerlines were torn down in an area that stretched from the Germantown neighborhood, north of downtown, into the Five Points area of East Nashville and more than 20 miles to the east in Mt. Juliet.

Officials scrambled to open emergency shelters around the metro area as emergency sirens continued to wail and the smell of natural gas lingered in the air.

In East Nashville, Main Street was closed following the storm and covered in half-fallen trees and other debris.

Part of a building had collapsed onto the road at Fifth Street and Main Street.

Water was pouring out of the light fixtures of a building at Main and Ninth streets. Power lines were down and glass covered the ground. A truck was on its side nearby.

Residents of Stacks On Main, on Main Street near Nissan Stadium, reported their windows burst during the heavy winds, sending glass shards throughout their apartment, as well as minor flooding.

Buildings in the area suffered power outages. Apartment complexes located off Main Street had siding, slabs of concrete and other building materials ripped from structures.

Damaged homes were reported in East Nashville and Donelson.

Police are blocking lanes headed north on Cockrill Bend Boulevard and headed west on Centennial, said Lt. John Wheeler, with the Metro Nashville Police Department.

"At this time we have multiple power lines in both directions on Centennial Boulevard, which is causing the roads to be blocked," Wheeler said.

Police and fire are working to get to the John C. Tune Airport. There are reports of damage but no confirmed injuries so far. Wheeler said that "at the airport everybody, as far as we know, is okay at this point. We've asked them to shelter in place until we can get to them."

Mt. Juliet and Lebanon tornado damage

The storm also caused damage in Wilson County.

In Mt. Juliet, emergency personnel are continuing to assess the damage, said Tyler Chandler, spokesman for the Mt. Juliet Police Department. Homes were damaged around Central Pike, Triple Crown, Clearview, Old Lebanon Dirt Road and Pleasant Grove Road, Chandler said.

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