Cleanup is underway after severe storms and tornadoes wreaked havoc, causing at least six deaths, multiple injuries, damaging structures, flipping vehicles, and leaving tens of thousands without power across Tennessee.
The National Weather Service confirmed 13 tornadoes touched down Saturday; the most destructive was an EF-3 twister, packing winds of 150 miles per hour.
Carl Livingston is counting his blessings after a tornado tore through parts of Montgomery County, leaving a trail of mass destruction.
"It was so beautiful. Just looking forward to seeing it this morning. But who knew?" said Livingston, who is a pastor at Walnut Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee.
He says he's grateful his church only saw minimal damage.
"Comparatively speaking, this was just a drop in the bucket,” said Livingston.
Livingston says he was thousands of miles away from home when the tornado touched down, and Christmas decorations were being put up inside the church.
He took the next flight home as soon as he heard the news.
Despite the damage, he decided to still hold Sunday worship.
"I think it's important that we praise God in the midst of crisis. I also think it's important that we encourage one another. We need to feel the strength of the human spirit from our brothers and sisters,” said Livingston.
Across the street, the Walnut Grove Cemetery was toppled over by the tornado and covered in debris.
"I was crying because I wasn't sure if that tree was on top of my daughter's grave or not. We just buried her in September,” said Clarksville resident Angellette Warfield.
Warfield says there are at least seven generations worth of her family members who are buried at the cemetary.
She says she praises God for all of the volunteers who came together to help clean up.
"I just absolutely appreciate and am grateful for the people out here cleaning this up and helping us with this,” said Warfield.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued a Level 3-state of emergency for Montgomery County, and officials say at least 91 structures are completely destroyed.
"Our priority first is to take care of our people. We know we have people are suffering because of loss of life, and injuries, and loss of property,” said Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts.
Authorities are also telling people to stay safe and, once the sun goes down, to stay inside so that they can prioritize resources and answer any 911 calls in a timely manner.
Over 34,000 power outages were reported statewide as of Sunday, according to PowerOutage.us. The power is expected to be out for at least another day or two across much of the damaged area.
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