Crews search for survivors and survey damage after tornadoes leave at least 6 dead in Tennessee
(CNN) — Crews are searching for survivors and surveying the damage after tornadoes and strong thunderstorms tore through Tennessee, overturning cars, ripping apart buildings, and leaving at least six people dead.
At least three people died, including a child, after an apparent tornado struck the Clarksville area of Montgomery County in northern Tennessee, officials said Saturday night.
Montgomery County was in a “search and rescue phase” Saturday evening after nearly two dozen people were treated for injuries at a hospital, officials said.
Footage obtained by CNN shows what appears to be a tornado churning across a Clarksville road, flinging debris in the air and sparking power lines as it ripped through the area.
In the storm’s aftermath, cars were left tossed on their roofs as downed trees and debris littered roads. Roofs and walls from multiple buildings were ripped off, photos show.
“This is devastating news and our hearts are broken for the families of those who lost loved ones,” Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts said in a statement. “The City stands ready to help them in their time of grief.”
As Clarkesville looked for survivors and possibly additional victims, the mayor declared a state of emergency Saturday night and enacted a 9 p.m. curfew.
‘Whole houses that are just gone’
Rex Stockton told CNN affiliate WSMV the roof of his Clarksville home was blown off in the storm. He went outside after the storm passed to inspect the damage and saw his neighborhood had been devastated.
“There were whole houses that are just gone,” he said.
Stockton and his wife, a local nurse, began helping their neighbors alongside other good Samaritans. They could hear cries for help in the debris, he said, and managed to help some people.
“She was able to do some CPR, but she was not alone,” Stockton told WSMV, calling the experience “traumatic” but noting he and his wife were “fortunate.”
“There were medics. People were just coming from everywhere to help and they were able to do what they could,” he said.
Nearly 50 miles away, another three people were confirmed dead in Madison, Tennessee, just north of Nashville, emergency management officials said Saturday night.
“We have teams assessing damage and looking for patients,” the Nashville Office of Emergency Management said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Images showed severe damage in the area where the deaths were reported, with heavy debris covering a car.
At least two tornadoes – each described as large and dangerous – were confirmed Saturday afternoon, including one in Montgomery County and another near the Gibson County town of Rutherford, the National Weather Service said.
The tornado reports came as a severe weather outbreak walloped more than 1,200 miles of the eastern United States from the Gulf Coast to the Canadian border on Saturday – with more bad weather on the way Sunday.
“Today a storm turned the world upside down for many in our community,” said Freddie O’Connell, mayor of Nashville and Davidson County.
The mayor declared a state of emergency for the area, where he said first responders were still working late Saturday to get to hard-to-reach areas.
He urged residents to stay out of the affected areas and call the Red Cross if they’ve been displaced.
“There’s a long road of healing and recovery ahead for many of our neighbors,” O’Connell said.
“Significant damage” from a tornado was also reported in the Tennessee cities of Gallatin and Hendersonville, northeast of Nashville, according to a joint statement from the communities’ mayors.
“It is of paramount importance that citizens stay off of the roads and allow first responders and utility crews to respond,” the officials said.
Storm threat continues Sunday
While Tennessee grapples with the aftermath, more storms are set to hit the Eastern US on Sunday.
“Isolated severe thunderstorms will be possible through Sunday evening across parts of the Southeast States, mainly in the form of sporadic damaging winds and a few brief tornadoes,” the Weather Prediction Center said.
The storms will reach maximum strength by the afternoon Sunday as they expand and engulf much of the East. Wind gusts from the storms will be quite a bit stronger on Sunday compared to Saturday and could knock out power and disrupt travel.
Widespread gusts of 40 to 50 mph are set to lash the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Gusts could strengthen and reach up to 60 mph at times Sunday night in New England and coastal portions of New York and New Jersey.
From Florida to New England, widespread rain totals of 1 to 2 inches are likely.
A few thunderstorms may become severe on Sunday, with an area from the Florida Panhandle to Virginia the most likely to endure a handful of damaging storms. Damaging wind gusts will be the main threat with these storms, but an isolated tornado is also possible.
Portions of New England could change over to a wintry mix of rain, snow and freezing rain late Sunday night through Monday.
CNN Meteorologist Mary Gilbert contributed to this report.