(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — After several deadly tornadoes tore through Tennessee on Tuesday, killing at least two dozen people, officials say 22 remain unaccounted for in hard-hit Putnam County.
Of the 24 killed by the twisters, 18 were Putnam County residents, Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter said Wednesday.
Five children under the age of 13 died in Putnam County, Porter said.
All but one of the 18 killed in Putnam County have been identified, said Porter.
The tornadoes touched down Tuesday in the hours after midnight, ripping through Nashville and other cities in Tennessee. The twisters wiped out dozens of homes and businesses, including churches and schools, and even snapped powerlines.
“I watched debris fly through the glass windows,” one man told ABC News.
Some of those killed were asleep in their beds, officials said.
“It hit so fast, a lot of folks didn’t have time to take shelter,” Porter said. “Many of these folks were sleeping.”
Annakate Ross told ABC News she sheltered with her family in a closet in their Nashville home.
Once the twister moved through, she opened the closet door to find that “the windows were blown out, the doors had been blown open and our neighbor had been ejected from his back house apartment into our yard.”
“He survived,” Ross said. “He’s doing great.”
Nashville resident James Duncan said sirens started in the middle of the night before “howling” winds moved in.
“Things started hitting the window, and my girlfriend and I shot out of bed and darted for the bathroom. We could hear objects slamming against the building … it was terrifying,” Duncan told ABC News. “They say tornadoes sound like a train … they were not lying. The feeling in my head from the pressure was insane. I’ve never felt anything like it. We were shaking.”
The twisters left planes decimated at the John C. Tune Airport in West Nashville. No one there was injured and crews from Nashville International Airport will help rebuild, said Doug Kreulen, Nashville International Airport president and CEO.
One apartment complex was “totally demolished,” Porter said.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has declared a state of emergency as a result of the devastation.
The National Guard has been deployed to help with search-and-rescue efforts.
Putnam County Sheriff Eddie Farris said Wednesday that crews still have to comb though about 40% of the rubble.
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