UPDATE: Tornadoes devastate Tennessee, killing at least 19 people

A man walks through storm debris following a deadly tornado Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding buildings and killing multiple people. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)A man walks through storm debris following a deadly tornado Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding buildings and killing multiple people. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
People walk past buildings damaged by storms Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding buildings and killing multiple people. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)People walk past buildings damaged by storms Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding buildings and killing multiple people. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
People pass by businesses destroyed by storms Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding buildings and killing multiple people. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)People pass by businesses destroyed by storms Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding buildings and killing multiple people. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
A overturned truck sits in a street in an area damaged by storms Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding buildings and killing multiple people. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)A overturned truck sits in a street in an area damaged by storms Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding buildings and killing multiple people. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
A man looks over buildings destroyed by storms Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding buildings and killing multiple people. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)A man looks over buildings destroyed by storms Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding buildings and killing multiple people. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding at least 40 buildings and killing at least 19 people. One of the twisters caused severe damage across downtown Nashville, destroying the stained glass in a historic church and leaving hundreds of people homeless.

Daybreak revealed a landscape littered with blown-down walls and roofs, snapped power lines and huge broken trees, leaving city streets in gridlock. Schools, courts, transit lines, an airport and the state capitol were closed, and some damaged polling stations had to be moved only hours before Super Tuesday voting began.

The death toll jumped to 19 Tuesday, Tennessee Emergency Management Spokeswoman Maggie Hannan said, after police and fire crews spent hours pulling survivors and bodies from wrecked buildings.

“Last night was a reminder about how fragile life is,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper said at a Tuesday morning news conference.

Nashville residents walked around in dismay as emergency crews closed off roads. Roofs had been torn off apartment buildings, large trees uprooted and debris littered many sidewalks. Walls were peeled away, exposing living rooms and kitchens in damaged homes. Mangled power lines and broken trees came to rest on cars, streets and piles of rubble.

“It is heartbreaking. We have had loss of life all across the state,” said Gov. Bill Lee. He ordered nonessential state workers to stay home just before he was set to fly in a helicopter to survey damage.

ALSO READ: Surrey landlord must pay Indigenous former tenant $23,300 for not letting her smudge

President Donald Trump said he’d visited the area Friday. “We send our love and our prayers of the nation to every family that was affected,” he said. “We will get there, and we will recover, and we will rebuild, and we will help them.”

The tornadoes were spawned by a line of severe storms that stretched from Alabama into western Pennsylvania.

In Nashville, the twister’s path was mostly north and east of the heart of downtown, leaving many of its biggest tourism draws — the honky tonks of Broadway, the Grand Ole Opry House, the storied Ryman Auditorium, and the convention centre— unharmed. Instead the storm tore through areas transformed by a recent building boom. Germantown and East Nashville are two of the city’s trendiest neighbourhoods, with restaurants, music venues, high-end apartment complexes and rising home prices threatening to drive out longtime residents.

“The dogs started barking before the sirens went off, they knew what was coming,” said Paula Wade, of East Nashville. “Then we heard the roar … Something made me just sit straight up in bed, and something came through the window right above my head. If I hadn’t moved, I would’ve gotten a face full of glass.”

Then she looked across the street and saw the damage at East End United Methodist Church.

“It’s this beautiful Richardsonian Romanesque church; the bell tower is gone, the triptych window of Jesus the Good Shepherd that they just restored and put back up a few weeks ago is gone,” she said.

Wade immediately recalled how a tornado damaged her own St. Ann’s Episcopal church down the street in 1998.

“I had no idea that I still had some PTSD from that other experience so long ago, but the sound of the sirens, that low sound, there’s just nothing like it,” she said. “To look out and see the church, its just heartbreaking. It brings out everything that happened to St. Ann’s.”

The roof came crashing down on Ronald Baldwin and Harry Nahay in bedroom of the one-story brick home they share in East Nashville. “We couldn’t get out,” said Baldwin. “And so I just kept kicking and kicking until we finally made a hole.”

Also in East Nashville, the roaring wind woke Evan and Carlie Peters, but they had no time to reach the relative safety of an interior bathroom. “Within about 10 seconds, the house started shaking,” Carlie Peters said. “The ceiling started coming down on us, so I jumped on top of the ground; he jumped on top of me. The ceiling landed on top of him. … we’re grateful to be alive.”

One tornado carved a path about 10 miles (16 kilometres) long, reportedly staying on the ground from near downtown Nashville along Interstate 40 to the city’s eastern suburbs of Mt. Juliet, Lebanon and Hermitage.

Metro Nashville police said crews were responding to about 40 building collapses. Among them was the Basement East Nashville, a popular music venue that had just held an election rally for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The crowd left shortly before the twister struck, the Tennessean newspaper reported.

The disaster affected voting in Tennessee, one of 14 Super Tuesday states. Officials said more than a dozen voting locations in Nashville’s Davidson County were damaged. Voters are being told they can vote at other open locations nearby. Other sites were opening late.

ALSO READ: ‘Very concerning’: Travellers from Iran asked to self-isolate as COVID-19 cases increase

“Anyone that wants to vote, we want to create an opportunity for you,” Davidson County elections administrator Jeff Roberts said. Because poll workers will be navigating through a damaged city to deliver results Tuesday night, he said the tallying may take longer than anticipated.

A reported gas leak forced an evacuation of the IMT building in Germantown, according to WSMV-TV. Dozens of people, suddenly homeless, were seen carrying their belongings through garbage-strewn streets after the tornado blew through.

Schools were closed in Nashville and beyond. Nashville Electric tweeted that four of its substations were damaged in the tornado. Power outages were affecting more than 44,000 customers early Tuesday, the utility company said.

The governor’s spokeswoman, Gillum Ferguson, said hundreds of people went to a Red Cross shelter for displaced residents at the Nashville Farmers Market, just north of the state capitol, but a power outage there forced people to move again to the Centennial Sportsplex.

The storm system left just scattered rain in its wake as it moved eastward. Strong cells capable of causing damage were spotted in central Alabama, eastern Tennessee and the western Carolinas.

AP contributors include Jonathan Mattise and Mark Humphrey in Nashville, Rebecca Reynolds Yonker in Louisville, Kentucky, and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama.

Travis Loller And Kimberlee Kruesi, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Severe weather

Just Posted

Teenagers make their way to Truswell Road after a party is broken up by police at the end of Mission Creek (Lorraine Besner/Contributed).
Truswell Road residents concerned about ongoing alleged underage beach parties

Public urination, property damage, drinking and drug usage have become weekly concerns

Voix du Coeur is bringing music to seniors in retirement homes as restrictions slowly start to ease. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Trio sings opera to Okanagan seniors as pandemic restrictions ease

Voix du Coeur travel around the Okanagan to bring the joy of music to seniors for free

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

Kelowna Cabs’ dispatchers will be coming back to work now that their union and the taxi company have come to an agreement. (Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs dispatchers set to go back to work

The taxi company and the dispatchers’ union have reached an agreement

t
Motorcyclist critically injured in Westside Road collision

Motorcyclist collides with vehicle, struck by another: preliminary police findings

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Photograph By MICHAEL POTESTIO.KTW
Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

(Black Press file photo)
EDITORIAL: Curtailing attempts at scams

The true total of losses from all scams and frauds could be much higher than the figures on file

Most Read