Since late Friday night, numerous storms and tornadoes have swept through the south-central and eastern U.S., causing destruction in both small towns and big cities, killing at least 26 people.
As of late Saturday night, the strong winds and heavy rainfall were moving toward the east, and there were forecasts for thunderstorms, hail, and powerful winds to persist through late Sunday.
The death toll from the severe weather included a minimum of nine individuals in a Tennessee county, four in Wynne, Arkansas, three in Sullivan, Indiana, and four in Illinois.
Other storm-related fatalities were reported in Alabama and Mississippi, as well as one near Little Rock, Arkansas. City officials stated that the tornado affected over 2,600 buildings in its path.
The recovery efforts are currently in full swing, as workers employ chainsaws and bulldozers to clear the affected area, while utility crews are working to restore power.
Patrick Sheehan, the director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, confirmed that nine individuals lost their lives in McNairy County, located east of Memphis in Tennessee.
“The majority of the damage has been done to homes and residential areas,” David Leckner, the mayor of Adamsville stated.
On Saturday, Governor Bill Lee visited the county to assess the damage and provide comfort to the affected residents. He expressed that the storm occurred during what he deemed as the “worst” week of his mandate as governor, following a school shooting in Nashville that claimed the lives of six people, including a family friend whose funeral he and his wife, Maria, had attended earlier that same day.
“It’s terrible what has happened in this community, this county, this state,” Lee said. “But it looks like your community has done what Tennessean communities do, and that is rally and respond.”
On Friday, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a state of emergency declaration for Arkansas, and the National Guard has been deployed to assist in the recovery operations.