Volunteers, donations needed after Central Tenn. tornado; Death toll reaches 24, including children

EF-3 tornado cut across three Tennessee counties yesterday morning, leaving death and destruction in Nashville and surrounding communities. ConnectLocal.News has worked to verify legitimate volunteer and fundraiser efforts.

Tornado damage in Nashville early on March 3, 2020. Via WTVF-TV, CBS News
Sumant Joshi helps to clean up rubble at the East End United Methodist Church after it was heavily damaged by storms Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Joshi is a resident in the area and volunteered to help clean up. Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding buildings and killing multiple people. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

A system of severe storms that included at least one tornado rampaged across central Tennessee just before dawn yesterday, March 3. Putnam County, the county that suffered the highest death toll from the storm and tornado, has confirmed that several children are among the 18 confirmed dead, with the possibility of more to come as they continue to search the rubble of destroyed homes and buildings. An 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew has been instituted in Putnam County. With additional fatalities reported in neighboring communities, the death toll from the storm system stands at 24 as of 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday. (Putnam County – 18, Wilson County -3, Davidson County – 2, Benton County – 1 – Source Tennessee Emergency Management)


"This is the saddest, most destructive day in Cookeville, Putnam County history," Mayor Ricky Shelton said during a press conference, and Gov. Bill Lee echoed that statement, saying “This is a tragic day in our state. It is heartbreaking.”

Aircraft and structures at John C. Tune Airport in Nashville, Tennessee, were crushed by an overnight tornado that brought a path of destruction and loss of life to the area, March 3. Photo by Harrison McClary

According to National Weather Service initial reports, one EF-3 (Enhanced Fujita scale) tornado that dealt structural damage, injuries and fatalities in East Nashville, the Donelson community in Nashville, and Mt. Juliet, which lies about 20 miles east of Nashville. Other tornados were reported, but have yet to be confirmed by the National Weather Service.

EF rankings include five levels of severity for tornados, with EF0 being 65-85 mph winds and light damage, and EF5 being winds of more than 200 mpg and “incredible damage.” A EF3 rating indicates winds of 136-165 mph with “severe damage.”


Schools in Wilson and Putnam County and Metro Nashville are confirmed closed through the end of the week, and the Nashville Emergency Operations Center advised media that several shelters have been opened in Nashville for displaced residents and tourists.


More than 35,000 Nashville Electric Service customers are still without power as of 10:45 Tuesday evening.


In Putnam County, where the tornado damaged approximately 150 structures – many of them completely demolished - several emergency shelters have been opened, including at the Cookeville Community Center and the YMCA.


Rescue crews are continuing to do a door-to-door search. Thirty nine residents of Putnam county originally counted among the missing have been accounted for, but 38 are still unaccounted for, and EMS officials have called for volunteers to meet this morning,

Wednesday, March 4, at Town Plaza Shopping Center, 157 South Jefferson Street, and have stated they hope to have cleared every damaged structure by the end of the day today. Donations of work gloves, safety goggles and safety vests have been requested.


The National Guard has been deployed in the area and FEMA will join their efforts on today. President Donald Trump has announced plans to visit Putnam County on Friday.


For Stephens County residents or organizations wishing to help provide support and relief for those impacted by the storms, whether through hands-on, on-the-ground assistance with rescue and clean-up efforts, or through donations of supplies and/or money, ConnectLocal.News has collected the following list of verified efforts:


Samaritan's Purse, located in Boone, NC is traveling to Nashville. The volunteer teams will assist homeowners with clearing trees and debris from yards and homes and placing tarps on damaged roofs.


Cumberland River Compact is coordinating cleanup efforts in affected areas once volunteers are cleared. Contact Gray Perry.


The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has activated its Emergency Response Fund.


People who want to help in Wilson County can come to the Lebanon Police Department at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning and bring equipment such as chainsaws and shovels. Volunteers will take a bus to damaged areas. Volunteers are reminded to NOT go into damaged areas unescorted.


ZEAL Church in Nashville is taking donations of supplies between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Specific requests include water, Lowe’s gift cards, chainsaws, wheelbarrows, tools and roof repair supplies.


The Nashville Community Resource Center is asking for donations of bleach, trash bags, gloves and box cutters. For more information, email lindsey@hon.org.


Those wishing to volunteer for cleanup at Mt. Juliet can register online.


The Donelson Fellowship in Nashville will meet today at 8 a.m. today, March 4, for cleanup efforts, Bring chainsaws, gloves and supplies for debris cleanup. The church will also provide 5,000 – 7,000 barbecue meals each day until they are no longer needed, beginning midmorning today, March 4. Donations can be made to their disaster relief fund.


Volunteers, and supplies (except clothing) for those displaced by the storms, are accepted at the following emergency shelters:

The Centennial Sportsplex at 222 2th Avenue N. Nashville

East Magnet High School at 110 Gallatin Ave., Nashville

Victory Baptist Church at 1777 Tate Lane in Mount Juliet

Cookeville Community Center at 240 Carlen Dr., Cookeville (Putnam County)

Putnam County YMCA at 235 Raider Dr., Cookeville

Red Cross Shelter, First Baptist Church, 18 S. Walnut Ave., Cookeville


Hands On Nashville is seeking volunteers for Davidson County cleanup and storm related projects.


Putnam County officials are seeking volunteers to help with cleanup and relief efforts. Sign up here.


The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.’s Music City Inc. Foundation is accepting donations that will be “immediately distributed directly to families significantly impacted: To make a donation to the Music City Inc. Foundation, send money via Venmo or PayPal to donate@visitmusiccity.com. Checks made out to the Music City Inc. Foundation are also being accepted at: One Nashville Place, 150 4th Ave. N.. Suite G-250. Nashville, TN 37219.

YMCA Disaster Response


Attend one of the many tornado disaster relief shows or benefits.


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