‘Felt like a train hit’: Tornadoes kill at least 25 in Tennessee
04 March 2020| 08 Rajab 1441| Al Jazeera
Tornadoes that hit the southern US city of Nashville and surrounding areas have left at least 25 dead and many more missing or homeless, Tennessee’s governor said on Tuesday.
At least 17 of those who died were from Cookeville, which is about 80 miles (129km) east of Nashville, Tennessee. The death toll included children, officials said.
The tornadoes hit overnight, levelling streets, smashing glass, ripping off roofs, destroying homes, downing power lines and leaving debris in its wake, prompting Governor Bill Lee to declare a state of emergency.
In a news conference earlier on Tuesday, Nashville Mayor John Cooper opened by saying that “last night is a reminder of how fragile life is.”
Across social media, those who witnessed the tornado and its destruction posted videos and photos, relaying harrowing scenes and stories. Schools, courts, roads and the state legislature closed today, and some voters in the area participating in Super Tuesday’s primary were redirected to other polling stations after their original locations were damaged. Many voters said they were undeterred.
Blakeley Galbraith was in her fourth-floor apartment when meteorologists began reporting that tornadoes had touched down elsewhere.
“We knew severe weather was coming, we just didn’t know the extent of it,” Galbraith told Al Jazeera by phone. “And then, it just hit and got loud and felt like a train hit our building. And that’s when we just grabbed all our stuff and got into a closet.”
She said the impact did not last long – maybe 10 to 15 seconds – and then it “got really quiet”. Galbraith went to the window to survey the damage.
“That’s when I saw cars just flipped over in our parking lot,” she said.
When Galbraith stepped out of her apartment into the hallway, water was flooding in. Other people in the building told her it was because the roof had been ripped off.
In the end, Galbraith and the other building’s residents were evacuated due to concerns over the gas leaks and infrastructure and walked for a while, keeping their distance from other buildings. They have been told it is not yet safe to return.
“I’m not sure where we’ll live. I’m just happy that we’re OK,” she said.