Gov. Bill Lee says search for survivors continues as individuals remain unaccounted for following overnight tornadoes

Updated: Mar. 3, 2020 at 5:22 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Leaders across the state of Tennessee are surveying damage after tornadoes ripped through the Nashville area overnight killing over two dozen people.


Governor Bill Lee says rescue and recovery efforts are still underway in the communities affected and people remain unaccounted for. During a news conference

National Weather Service survey teams have determined an EF-3 tornado hit Davidson and Wilson counties and an EF-0 tornado hit Morgan County.

When asked about the efficiency of warnings issued before the tornadoes, TEMA said some communities in the area have not opted to use outdoor sirens to warn people of severe weather. NWS was actively sharing information regarding the weather overnight.

More than 5,000 individuals have signed up online at Hands On Nashville to volunteer in recovery efforts in the counties affected. Gov. Lee and Nashville Mayor John Cooper are encouraging the people of Tennessee to help in any way they can.

During an early morning press conference Tuesday, Cooper said, “Last night was a reminder of how fragile life is. That at any moment an event can go up and make us painfully aware of this.”

Cooper gave his condolences to the families that lost loved ones and homes during the storms. He also ensured firefighters and first responders are still searching collapsed buildings to make sure all residents are accounted for.

Multiple community organizations are accepting volunteers, donations and other aid in the aftermath of the severe weather, according to Cooper.

He is also advising people not to travel in the downtown Nashville area at this time.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said, “It’s heartbreaking. We’ve had loss of life across the state.”

At this time, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has reported 23 deaths across four counties.

  • 17 fatalities in Putnam County
  • 3 fatalities in Wilson County
  • 2 fatalities in Davidson County
  • 1 fatality in Benton County.

Ambulances are lined up and ready to go when needed, additional state troopers have been sent to Wilson and Smith counties, shelters have opened up throughout middle Tennessee and local leaders have reached out to the White House to request federal assistance, according to Lee.

Lee further stated, “We’re doing everything that we can to respond to this. With that being said, this is a very difficult situation.”

He also explained that the state has a strong coordinated response.

Lee took to the streets of Nashville Tuesday and got a first-hand look at the damage.

Nashville Fire Department Director William Swann said search and rescue teams are going door to door to do wellness checks across the Music City.

Swann explained once the damage has been assessed, additional firefighters will be deployed to the most heavily impacted areas. He also said 48 buildings are either partly or fully collapsed in Nashville.

About 30 firefighters were injured during recovery efforts of the storms. Firefighters also responded to at least 400 calls Tuesday morning in relation to the storms, about 156 people have been transported to the hospital.

Two people have been confirmed dead in Nashville and one is severely injured.

National guardsmen have also been deployed in the area to assist in response and assessment efforts.

Officials say they feel confident in the resources they are providing for communities at this time and have only set a curfew for Mt. Juliet in Wilson County.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has also given his condolences to Nashville during the desperate time. He said emergency response teams in Memphis are ready to help Nashville if needed.

RELATED | Aerial video shows damage above Nashville suburb after deadly tornadoes

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