Deadly Tornado Rips Through Nashville, Destroying Beloved Club Basement East and More
A tornado ripped through Nashville early on Tuesday (March 3), around 1AM, damaging the East Nashville and Germantown areas of the city. Among the destroyed buildings is the beloved East Nashville club the Basement East. More than 40 other buildings have also collapsed, the Tennessean reports, with still more sustaining everything from minor to major damage.
The Basement East is located on Woodland Street in East Nashville, in the hard-hit Five Points neighborhood. Staff members who were working late on Monday night (March 2) took shelter in the basement of the venue, the Basement East's Instagram page reports, and are all safe. The building, however, partially collapsed.
Before the tornado on Monday night, the Basement East was hosting a group of musicians playing in support of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Darrin Bradbury, the Wild Feathers' Joel King and Lissie were among those who performed. It was after the show -- as a five-person staff were preparing to shut the venue down for the night -- that the storm came along.
"The tornado hit at approximately 1:15AM. The Bernie benefit was over, and our conscientious staff of five ran down to the basement with seconds to spare before the roof blew off," the Basement East's co-owner, Mike Grimes, says in a statement to Rolling Stone. "All are safe. We are so fortunate. The venue is pretty much a total loss."
"Building is destroyed, but we will be back!" a post on the Basement East's Facebook page reads. A second post reports that staff "are diligently working on each show to either relocate or cancel." The venue's concert calendar is packed with upcoming shows, including performances by Hailey Whitters and Sarah Shook & the Disarmers.
Country Stars Speak Out After Nashville Tornado
Plenty of country artists have connections to the area, but Eric Paslay and Ingrid Andress were both directly affected by the Tuesday morning tornado: Paslay says he and his family survived a "direct hit" after rushing to safety with only seconds to spare, while Andress' apartment building was badly damaged, forcing her and the rest of the residents out "until further notice."
As emergency crews began to survey the damage sustained to the city, news of the tornado's first fatalities broke, and the death toll continued to mount as the morning wore on. As of about 11:30AM on Tuesday morning, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) reported a total of 22 deaths, two of which occurred in East Nashville: Thirty-six-year-old Michael Dolfini and 33-year-old Albree Sexton died of injuries from debris that hit them as they were leaving Attaboy Lounge, located on McFerrin Avenue, the Tennessean reports.
By approximately 9PM CT on Tuesday night, the number of reported deaths had climbed to 25, according to CNN. In addition to the two Nashvillians named above, the tornado claimed lives across Wilson, Benton and Putnam Counties. Putnam County -- home to Cookeville, Tenn. -- was hardest hit, with officials there reporting at least 18 deaths, 88 people currently being treated for injuries and a large swath of damaged and leveled homes.
Additionally, on Tuesday night, Cookeville Mayer Ricky Shelton revealed the names of 77 people still un-accounted for since the tornado touched down. For a full list of missing persons, go here. The Cookeville authorities are asking for anyone with information regarding those un-accounted for people to call Putnam County at (931) 646-4636.
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has set up a fund for victims of the tornado; to donate, visit CFMT.org. Hands on Nashville, the Red Cross and other organizations are also organizing donations and volunteers, according to the Tennessean. Click here for more information on how you can help.
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