Death toll rises as daylight shows tornado, storm devastation in Mid-Tenn


NASHVILLE, Tenn.--19 people have now been confirmed dead according to the latest totals from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

The first two deaths reported after a tornado tore through parts of Nashville were reported in East Nashville. Putnam County officials believe they have 16 fatalities in the county, 1 in Benton County, and the Wilson County Sheriff's Office confirmed two deaths in Wilson County. Mt. Juliet Police also add one person is missing and crews continue to search through the rubble left behind in storms.

An additional 156 people have been transported to hospitals for injuries.

The widespread destruction has caused the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) toactivate to a Level-3 State of Emergency. A Level 3-State of Emergency is defined by TEMA as a "serious emergency or minor disaster has occurred or a situation is deteriorating rapidly and public warnings are being issued. The Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP) is activated and a state of emergency is automatically declared."

The Nashville Emergency Operations Center has also partially activated, bringing together all the public agencies to monitor damage and decide responses. The Nashville Fire Department reports there have been at least 48 building collapses in the city, injuring at least 30 people.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper will provide an update on the efforts of of city officials and first responders at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. TheCommunity Foundation of Middle Tennessee(CFMT) announced it has activated the Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund to support affected communities and nonprofits to help nonprofits providing assistance to victims of the tornadoes.

Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper stated early Tuesday he was already working with the Mayor's Office on getting federal assistance. "What a devastating night in Nashville. I am praying for the victims and am thankful for our first responders. Check on your friends, family, and neighbors. We are working with the Mayor’s office on a request for federal assistance," Cooper stated on Twitter.

During a press conference updating the public, Governor Bill Lee stated the White House had also reached out to offer assistance.

The widespread devastation spans several counties, prompting Metro Nashville Public Schools to close for the day and Wilson County Schools to close for the week. Other individual schools have also announced closings or are opening late.

The timing of the storms will also affect Super Tuesday voting for some as at leasttwo polling locations in Nashville were damaged. Davidson County voters affected by storms will be able to vote at the election commission offices.