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Updates: Death Toll In Middle Tennessee Rises To 22 In The Aftermath Of Tornadoes

A home in North Nashville, near the North Branch library, is destroyed.
Damon MichellWPLN
A home in North Nashville, near the North Branch library, is destroyed.

Twenty-two people are now confirmed dead after early-morning tornadoes across Middle Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

The highest number of deaths happened in Putnam County, where 16 fatalities are now being reported. Wilson County is reporting three fatalities; Davidson County has two; and Benton County has one.

(Editor’s note: Initial details about breaking news may change as more information becomes available.)

The National Weather Service has not yet determined the magnitude of the tornado that tore through Middle Tennessee last night around 1 a.m., but damage has been reported over a swath stretching from Benton to Putnam County.

In some neighborhoods — like East Nashville, Donelson and North Nashville — WPLN reporters are seeing flattened buildings, roofs torn off, and power lines strewn about. Damage has also been reported in Wilson, Smith and Putnam counties.

More: Slideshow: Super Tuesday Tornado In Nashville

“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 are closed on Tuesday. The Nashville Farmers Market had been used as an emergency shelter but lost power. Instead, displaced residents should go to the Centennial Sportsplex.

Many evacuees were still in shock by the time they got to the Farmers Market this morning. 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 came to the Farmers Market this morning after evacuating her 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. They advise people to avoid downed power lines and storm debris.

As of 5:08 a.m., the tornado watch is no longer in effect for Davidson and Williamson Counties.

Other Closures

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. Polls in Nashville opened one hour late and will close at the original time, 7 p.m.

More: Tornado Changes Some Super Tuesday Voting Locations

Nashville General Sessions courts are closed today, including traffic court.

Before and after care at Nashville schools has also been suspended, though YMCA Fun Company will operate inclement weather sites at five schools: Hattie Cotton, Harpeth Valley, Norman Binkley, KIPP Antioch, Tulip Grove.

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.

Jonese Franklin

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