38 People Still Missing After Deadly Tornadoes Ravage Central Tennessee, Officials Say

As rescuers continue to scour through the damage from Tuesday’s deadly tornadoes in central Tennessee, officials say at least 38 people are still missing and at least two dozen have been killed.

On Tuesday evening, Ricky Shelton, the mayor of Cookeville, announced the names of the people who were still unaccounted for in Putnam County, one of the hardest-hit areas, according to ABC News.

“It hit so fast, a lot of folks didn’t have time to take shelter,” Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter told reporters on Tuesday. “Many of these folks were sleeping.”

According to Fox News, the death toll from the twisters has climbed to at least 24 people as of Wednesday.  Of the 24 fatalities, 18 were Putnam County residents and five children under the age of 13 died, Porter said.

The first tornado was reported Tuesday around 12:38 a.m. CST, moving east about 45 mph, the National Weather Service said. Two more touched down in Putnam County, 80 miles east of Nashville.

In downtown Nashville alone, about 40 buildings collapsed, the Nashville Fire Department said. Schools, businesses and one popular concert venue were all reduced to rubble.

In response to the devastation, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee declared a state of emergency and sent the National Guard to assist with search-and-rescue efforts, the Associated Press reported.

“Nashville is hurting, and our community has been devastated,” Mayor John Cooper tweeted following the destruction. “Be sure to lend a helping hand to a neighbor in need, and let’s come together as a community once more.”

Other areas that have reported damage include Hermitage, Mt. Juliet and Germantown.

“Our community has been impacted significantly,” the Mt. Juliet Police Department tweeted early Tuesday. “There are multiple homes damaged and multiple injuries. We have requested mutual aid from allied agencies. We continue to search for injured. Stay home if you can. Watch for downed power lines.”

Initial fatalities reported on Tuesday included two people in East Nashville, the Metro Nashville police said, and three people in Putnam County, Sheriff Eddie Farris said in a press conference. A sixth death was then reported in Benton County, Tennessee, according to NBC News.

Later Tuesday, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency reported at least 19 dead, according to the New York Times.

Despite the damage, the cities of central Tennessee are staying strong.

“We are resilient and we’re going to rebuild,” Cooper added, according to the AP.

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