Disasters & AccidentsMid-SouthNews

Tennessee Residents Clean Up After Severe Weekend Storms Killed 6 People and Damaged Neighborhoods

Tennessee busca recuperarse de tormentas y tornados que dejaron 6 muertos y graves daños


By Kristin M. Hall, Patrick Whittle And Gary D. Robertson

NASHVILLE, TN (AP) — Residents of central Tennessee communities slammed by deadly tornadoes this weekend described tragic and terrifying scenes in which one mobile home landed on top of another, roofs were ripped from houses and an entire church collapsed during a string of powerful storms that killed six people.

Emergency workers and community members cleaned up Sunday from the severe weekend storms and tornadoes that also sent dozens more to the hospital while damaging buildings, turning over vehicles and knocking out power to tens of thousands.

Marco Tulio Gabriel Pérez came to Nashville from Atlanta after hearing that his sister and 2-year-old nephew were killed in the tornado. He said two other children in the family survived with minor injuries.

Family members were crying as they looked through the rubble of the trailers on Sunday morning.

“Regrettably, a tragedy happened here. Since it’s a tornado, it came through like you can see here. She lived in this trailer. The other trailer overturned on top of my deceased sister. She remained underneath, the other trailer went on top,” Pérez told The Associated Press in Spanish.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department identified the victims killed north of downtown as Joseph Dalton, 37; Floridema Gabriel Pérez, 31; and her son, Anthony Elmer Mendez, 2. Dalton was inside his mobile home when the storm tossed it on top of Pérez’s residence. Two other children were taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, the department said in a statement.

Officials elsewhere confirmed that three people, including a child, died after a tornado struck Montgomery County 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Nashville near the Kentucky state line on Saturday afternoon. They did not immediately provide names. About 60 people were treated for injuries at area medical facilities, including nine transferred in critical condition to a Nashville hospital, said Jimmie Edwards, Montgomery County’s director of emergency services.

Twenty-one total injuries were reported in Nashville, city officials said. A church north of downtown collapsed during the storm, resulting in 13 people being treated at hospitals, Nashville emergency officials said in a news release. They were later listed in stable condition.

The sanctuary and activities building at Community Baptist Church in Nashville were totally demolished, Donella Johnson, the wife of the church’s pastor, said in a Facebook video. Several members caught by the damage had emergency surgeries for broken hips and legs, she said.

The church website had publicized an appreciation banquet for the Johnsons for late Saturday afternoon.

“Though we have experienced devastation beyond measure, we did not lose life,” the pastor, the Rev. Vincent Johnson said. “God took brick and wood and metal and it was mangled in a tornado … yet God preserved us.”

At least six tornado tracks were reported Saturday in central Tennessee, according to the National Weather Service. Agency meteorologist Cory Mueller in Nashville said it was sending out tornado tracking teams on Sunday to attempt to confirm these potential tornadoes and calculate their severity.

Mueller said it wasn’t uncommon for tornadoes to be generated during this time of year.

Joe Pitts, mayor of the Montgomery County city of Clarksville, said it could be a couple of weeks before power is restored to everyone. Residents of the city of about 166,000 spent Sunday helping one another dig out from the devastating storms, he said.

“We know we have people who are suffering because of loss of life, loss of property,” Pitts said. “One thing I love about this city is that when someone has a need, we rally around that need.”

At a news conference with Metropolitan Nashville leaders, Mayor Freddie O’Connell said that over 20 structures had collapsed there as a result of Saturday’s storm and that “countless others have sustained significant damage.”

Nashville Electric Service executive Teresa Broyles-Aplin said electric substations in north Nashville and in nearby Hendersonville suffered significant damage and that outages could last days in some areas.

She said it was possible that a widely distributed video showing a fireball in the Saturday evening sky could have been caused by Nashville Electric equipment.

“That gives you a good idea of the extent of damage that we’re dealing with at some of these substations,” she said.

Residents in the region are familiar with severe weather in late fall. Saturday’s storm came nearly two years to the day after the National Weather Service recorded 41 tornadoes through a handful of states, including 16 in Tennessee and eight in Kentucky. A total of 81 people died in Kentucky alone.

Ellen Schlavach and Robyn Robichaud said that a tree fell on their house in the Madison neighborhood of Nashville, and many of their neighbors’ homes were damaged worse. They had been out running errands on Saturday and had seen some warnings that a thunderstorm was coming. They realized things were serious after they got back home and received emergency alerts on their phones.

“We very quickly realized that we had to gather up all the pets and hide in the bathroom,” Schlavach said. “The house was shaking. A tree fell on the house. Very loud. Very scary.”

Greg Chance of Nashville said that he was watching the news on Saturday with his wife and daughter and knew there was bad weather coming. Within minutes, they went to their safe place at a spot in the kitchen where there were no windows nearby and sat on the floor.

“And then the next thing we know, it just sounded like an explosion went off. You could hear stuff flying everywhere. It was crazy. It’s crazy. It is terrifying,” he said, emotion rising in his voice as he described the three of them holding onto each other.

He said he worked with Dalton, one of those killed in the storm, at a company that makes fasteners for construction. Chance said he couldn’t sleep knowing that his coworker lost his life and left behind a son. He said the boy and his mother were taken to the hospital with injuries.

About 35,000 electricity customers were without power in Tennessee on Sunday evening, according to PowerOutage.us, down from more than 80,000 on Saturday night. School would be closed in Clarksville through Tuesday, officials said.

Recovery continued as areas east faced severe weather Sunday. Tornado warnings were posted in the afternoon in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area and points in counties toward the Virginia border. Some homes were damaged by storms in Garner, a suburb of Raleigh.




Por Kristin M. Hall, Patrick Whittle y Gary D. Robertson

NASHVILLE, TN (AP) — Los residentes de las comunidades del centro de Tennessee que resultaron afectadas por los letales tornados del fin de semanas describieron las terribles y trágicas escenas en que una casa rodante cayó encima de otra, los tejados se desprendieron de las casas y toda una iglesia se vino abajo durante una serie de potentes tormentas que dejaron seis muertos.

Los trabajadores de emergencias y los miembros de la comunidad iniciaron el domingo las labores de limpieza luego de las tormentas y tornados del fin de semana que enviaron a decenas de personas al hospital, causaron daños en edificios, volcaron vehículos y dejaron sin luz a cientos de miles.

Marco Tulio Gabriel Pérez llegó a Nashville procedente de Atlanta después de escuchar que su hermana y su sobrino de 2 años murieron a causa del tornado. Dijo que otros dos niños de la familia sobrevivieron con heridas menores.

Familiares lloraban mientras inspeccionaban los restos de las casas rodantes la mañana del domingo.

El Departamento de la Policía Metropolitana de Nashville identificó a las víctimas que murieron al norte del centro como Joseph Dalton, de 37 años; Floridema Gabriel Pérez, de 31; y su hijo, Anthony Elmer Méndez, de 2. Dalton se encontraba dentro de su casa rodante cuando la tormenta la arrojó encima de la vivienda de Pérez. Dos niños fueron hospitalizados con heridas que no ponían en riesgo su vida, informó la policía en un comunicado.

Las autoridades en otros lugares confirmaron que tres personas, entre ellas un niño, murieron después que un tornado tocó tierra en el condado Montgomery, a unos 80 kilómetros (50 millas) al noroeste de Nashville y cerca de los límites con Kentucky la tarde del sábado. Por el momento no se dieron a conocer nombres. Alrededor de 60 personas recibieron atención médica por lesiones en instalaciones de salud de la zona, entre ellas nueve que fueron transferidas en estado crítico a un hospital de Nashville, señaló Jimmie Edwards, director de los servicios de emergencia del condado Montgomery.

En total se reportaron 21 lesionados en Nashville, de acuerdo con funcionarios de la ciudad. Una iglesia ubicada al norte del centro de la ciudad se derrumbó durante la tormenta, lo que provocó que 13 personas fueran hospitalizadas, informaron funcionarios de emergencia de Nashville en un comunicado de prensa. Todos permanecen en condición estable.

El edificio de actividades de la iglesia bautista de la comunidad de Nashville quedó destruido por completo, dijo Donella Johnson, esposa del pastor del templo, en un video publicado en Facebook. Varios feligreses afectados por los daños tuvieron que ser operados de emergencia por fracturas en la cadera y las piernas, declaró.

El sitio web de la iglesia había promocionado un banquete de agradecimiento para los Johnson la tarde del sábado.

“Aunque hemos experimentado una devastación que va más allá de lo creíble, no perdimos vidas”, dijo el reverendo Vincent Johnson. “Dios tomó los ladrillos y madera y metal que quedó retorcido en un tornado. Pero Dios preservó nuestras vidas”.

Se reportaron al menos seis rastros de tornado el sábado en la región central de Tennessee, según el Servicio Meteorológico Nacional. El meteorólogo Cory Mueller, en Nashville, dijo que la agencia desplegará el domingo equipos de rastreo de tornados con el objetivo de confirmar estos posibles tornados y calcular su magnitud.


Photo: Mark Zaleski/AP

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