The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency now confirms 34 fatalities in Tennessee. Emergency responders say the state dodged larger fatalities because tornadoes hit sparsely populated areas.
But ‘it could have been worse’ isn’t much comfort to the families collecting their personal belongings – children’s toys and family photographs – scattered in fields by the high winds. Suspected twisters also took down stands of trees like dominoes.
Many from the state’s congressional delegation flew the path carved by tornadoes in East Tennessee along with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.
“The benefit from being in the air, you see how broad the swath is and how incredibly devastating the storm was. Obviously then when you come on the ground you realize how personal it is. The house you see in bits and pieces was someone’s home yesterday.”
Senator Bob Corker toured his native Hamilton County.
“We’ve heard tremendous stories of personal tragedy and people just having to have been at the wrong place at the wrong time. And obviously that’s going to affect a lot of families for a long, long time.”
Tornadoes left dots of destruction along a 200 mile path from the southeastern part of the state to the northeastern corner.
While hard-hit, Tennessee is sending volunteers to harder hit Alabama. State officials have warned drivers to fill their gas tanks before leaving because of shortages to the south.
Senator Corker and Governor Haslam turn their attention to another developing weather disaster Friday – flooding along the Mississippi River. They will head west to Memphis to be briefed by the Army Corps of Engineers about a plan to divert floodwater by blowing out a levee in Missouri.