Days after deadly tornadoes killed dozens and left a path of destruction across Middle Tennessee, the recovery efforts continued Saturday as volunteers mobilized across the affected areas.
The National Weather Service confirmed seven tornadoes were responsible for the damage to Middle Tennessee, causing damage across more than 74 miles and leaving 24 people dead.
Wind speeds reached 175 mph in spots, with the largest tornado reported as an EF-4 in Cookeville, east of Nashville in Putnam County.
The EF-3 tornado that hit Nashville traveled approximately 60 miles through North Nashville, Germantown, and East Nashville, also hitting Donelson and Hermitage on its way east.
Park and ride for Sunday volunteers
The Office of Emergency Management will launch a park-and-ride service Sunday to help volunteers reach areas in North and East Nashville.
Authorities said recovery crews had trouble navigating some areas of Nashville on Saturday because volunteers had blocked roads with their parked vehicles.
Volunteers on Sunday should plan to park at Nissan Stadium in lot R, at the bottom of the pedestrian bridge. Shuttles will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and drop volunteers off at the following locations:
- 21st Avenue North and Scovel Street
- 14th Avenue North and Cockrill Street
- Fatherland and 11th streets
- 16th and Russell streets
Volunteers with Hands on Nashville should continue to use parking lots G, M, A, B and D.
Private vehicles will not be allowed to access some neighborhoods because of debris.
Volunteers in Donelson and Hermitage are asked to park at Mount Gilead Missionary Baptist Church-Hermitage Campus at 4004 Lebanon Pike.
Secure roofs and windows before rain arrives
Officials urged residents to secure damaged windows, roofs and walls before rain arrives later this week, and explained how to get help doing so.
Residents can call 311 to get a tarp for their roofs or other supplies, as well as assistance securing their homes.
The National Weather Service is forecasting rain in Nashville on Monday evening, with rain continuing through the end of the week.
Mount Gilead Missionary Baptist Church in Hermitage to distribute relief supplies
The Mount Gilead Missionary Baptist Church in Hermitage, located 4004 Lebanon Pike, began collecting assorted relief supplies and food items on Friday, with plans to start distribution on Sunday.
Pastor Breonus Mitchell said the church felt compelled to reach out to the Hermitage community after noticing a disparity in the amount of help available to smaller communities outside of Nashville.
“Sometimes when you’re father away from the city, you get overlooked,” said Mitchell.
The church plans to distribute donated items of clothes, paper towels, cleaning supplies, Gatorade, sleeping bags, tarps, pillows, blankets, and a number of non-perishable food items to residents in need.
The items will be available for pick up at the church from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday next week.
Mitchell said if pickup isn’t possible, those in need can call the church at 615-298-4387 to have donations delivered to them.
Chaos becomes organized in Donelson cleanup
By Saturday, much of the chaos in Stanford Estates had been restructured into organized piles of debris separated by materials — heaps of metal and household appliances separated from piles of tree trunks and limbs.
“Every time I’m here,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper later told a volunteer organizer in the subdivision, “I cannot believe there were not more injuries.”
Although the Tuesday storm damaged dozens of homes in the neighborhood and tore apart Donelson Christian Academy – a metal scoreboard there had been twisted into an avant-garde art sculpture – few people suffered serious injuries, and no deaths were reported.
Some 500 volunteers were expected to help out in the neighborhood Friday, said Nicki Avila, AmeriCorps program manager for Hands on Nashville.
Songwriters Ava Suppelsa, Shae Dupuy and Tristan Bushman turned out to volunteer because they recognized the need and felt Donelson had received less attention than other affected areas such as East Nashville, where many well-known businesses were damaged.
“Donelson is a lot of houses, no businesses, no apartment complexes, so there’s just less media attention,” Suppelsa said. “My experience is there’s a lot more families and elderly people out here. There’s not as many people making a big media scene over it.”
Officials urge volunteers not to block streets
Nashville officials have an urgent request Saturday afternoon: Please do not block streets or walk in the road. Public Works and Nashville Electric Service vehicles are having to turn around because of volunteer vehicles parked in their way.
Those crews are attempting to remove debris from areas affected by the tornado.
The situation is hampering the larger recovery effort, city officials said
Victims need to register for FEMA help
People affected by the storm in Putnam, Davidson and Wilson counties need to register to access assistance from the federal government.
To start the registration process, visit disasterassistance.gov or call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
8,600 still without power in Nashville
Nashville Electric Service was working to restore power to about 8,600 customers on Saturday. Another 1,000 residents remained without power in Putnam and Jackson counties.
At the height of the outages, 101,000 residents were without power across Tennessee. Of that total, roughly 50,000 were without power in Nashville in the immediately after the tornadoes touched down.
NES said approximately 250-300 bucket trucks have been working throughout damaged areas, and the monumental task of replacing more than 750 utility poles.
NES has reported 150 of the poles as repaired, and said work within Nashville will likely continue well into next week.
The utility company is asking Nashville residents and volunteers to keep a mindful distance from crews working around high amounts of voltage.
NWS has counted 7 tornadoes
The National Weather Service determined that seven tornadoes touched down in Middle Tennessee during Tuesday morning’s storms.
The storms whipped through seven counties: Benton, Humphreys, Davidson, Wilson, Smith, Putnam and Cumberland.
The longest tornado stretched 60.13 miles through Davidson, Wilson and Smith counties spanning a width of 800 yards. It was rated EF-3 and reached wind speeds of 165 miles per hour.
The strongest tornado was an EF-4 that stretched 8.21 miles through Putnam County, killing 18 people there. It was 500 yards wide with speeds of 175 miles per hour.
Rain forecast for Middle Tennessee next week
Rain is expected to move into the Midstate from the west beginning Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. That system is expected to move out of the region by Tuesday afternoon, with the heaviest rain predicted for Monday evening and some thunder possible on Tuesday.
The break may not be long, however, with rain predicted on and off through Friday. The region is expected to get about 1 inch of rain, with most of that falling Monday night.
Widespread flooding is not expected, but the rain may slow the fall of some rivers that are running high, including the Cumberland at Hunters Point and the Tennessee River at Clifton.
Wilson County decreases death toll
Wilson County’s death total from the March 3 tornado is now three after Lebanon police said there was no fourth fatality as previously announced, department spokesman PJ Hardy said.
The department had announced a fourth fatality based on inaccurate information of a male who was transported from CEVA Logistics facility in Lebanon. CEVA Logistics has multiple buildings in Wilson County.
The change puts the statewide death toll from the tornadoes at 24 with 18 in Putnam County, two in Davidson County and one in Benton County.
Tax extension for tornado victims
The IRS has extended the tax deadline by two months for areas affected by the tornadoes.
Taxpayers in Davidson, Wilson and Putnam counties will have until July 15 to file their individual or business returns and pay their taxes. People with addresses in the affected areas will have the extension applied automatically.
Uninsured or unreimbursed losses from the tornadoes can be claimed on either 2019 or 2020 taxes.
To see how specific deadlines are affected, visit the IRS website.
Wilson County Schools to announce plans on Monday
Wilson County Schools will reveal its plan for West Wilson Middle and Stoner Creek Elementary school students and staff to finish out the school year on Monday because of extensive tornado damage to both buildings.
The announcement is expected at 10 a.m., at Mt. Juliet High School.
West Wilson Middle has approximately 1,100 students. Stoner Creek Elementary has around 600 students, Wilson County Schools spokesman Bart Barker said.
Wilson County Schools canceled classes for all students for the rest of the week after the storms came through early Tuesday, March 3.
The district’s spring break was scheduled the week of March 9. Students return Monday, March 16.
9:30 a.m. Power restored for MTE customers
The majority of Middle Tennessee Electric customers who lost power during Tuesday’s spate of deadly tornadoes now have service restored, said the utility company on Saturday.
MTE, which serves Williamson, Wilson, Rutherford, Cannon and surrounding counties, said repair efforts were underway for 90 hours straight following Tuesday’s tornadoes.
The damage across MTE’s electrical grid was extensive, the company said. One EF3 tornado cut a quarter-mile wide and fifty mile long path of destruction through an MTE service area.
The result was a loss of power to roughly 105,000 businesses and homes, represented by 42,000 accounts.
By 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the utility company said it had reduced the number of customer accounts without power from 42,000 to 19,000, and by 3:15 p.m., 12,500.
Unbreakable bond: Married for 58 years, Mt. Juliet tornado victims died side by side
The utility company attributes the heightened restoration efforts to the 620 crew members from all MTE offices, contractors, and four neighboring utility companies.
“It was a week where we saw incredible destruction, heartbreak and loss. But it was also a week when we saw Team MTEMC at its finest,” said company president Chris Jones. “Great teams respond in great ways to great challenges, so it comes as no surprise that’s just what happened.”
By Saturday morning, more than 8,000 customers were still without power in the Nashville area, according to Nashville Electric Service.
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