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Death toll rises, widespread damage after tornadoes tear through Nashville, surrounding counties

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Deadly tornadoes tore through Nashville and its surrounding counties as far as 80 miles east in Putnam. The death toll as of Tuesday evening stands at 25, though officials with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency expect that number to rise.

“I encourage all of you to pray for the families across our state that are facing tragedy right now and they are now dealing with heartache and heart ship in ways that only they know,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.

The National Weather Service indicated that the tornado was first spotted late Monday night and moved eastward hitting Nashville’s downtown around midnight Tuesday and then roaring through 80 miles east in Putnam County.

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday morning that at least 16 people died. Other counties, which reported fatalities were Davidson County, where Nashville resides, Wilson and Benton.

The overwhelming feeling of loss was felt by many business owners and residents when the light hit Tuesday morning. The view of the destruction was apparent for miles. Son Tran’s East Nashville family business will never be the same. Tran spoke with KPRC 2′s Rose-Ann Aragon.

“It’s literally just demolished, half the building," Tran said, as his family was bringing out furniture and sweeping shattered glass.

“The walls, glass shattered, basically it’s just completely totaled,” Tran said.

Lee nails damaged by Tennessee Tornado
Lee nails damaged by Tennessee Tornado (KPRC)

But among the chaotic scenes of rubble, splintered wood, broken building and downed power lines stood the seemingly unbreakable, humanity at it’s best. Dozens of people, with gloves on and shovels, helped with the clean up in East Nashville, the Germantown neighborhood which was also affected and other communities.

“We’re just trying to help as much as we can,” said Dru Marshall, a volunteer.

At a business on Woodland Street, the mural, “We believe in Nashville,” a powerful image, stood tall, despite the other parts of the building turning to rubble.

'We believe in Nashville'
'We believe in Nashville' (KPRC)

“It’s really encouraging to see so many people here with brooms and gloves and trash bags," Marshall said.

“It means a lot,” Tran said.