President Donald Trump today toured devastated parts of Tennessee that were hit by a tornado early Tuesday morning. Officials say 18 were killed and nearly 90 injured in Putnam County from the EF-4 tornado.
“This is real devastation like you’ll hopefully never see again,” the president said, as he surveyed damage in the city of Cookeville, praising rebuilding that was already underway.
Trump was greeted by state and local officials after landing in Nashville. He then boarded Marine One and surveyed the devastation from the air.
The visit comes a day after Trump declared a major disaster declaration for the state, and ordered federal aid to supplement local recovery efforts in Davidson, Putnam and Wilson Counties.
“You’re great people, it’s a great state,” Trump said.
Trump was joined on the trip by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Senator Marsha Blackburn and other top officials.
Ricky Shelton, Cookeville’s mayor, said the site was like a “war zone” when the tornado first hit.
The officials emphasized the suddenness of the tornadoes, and also praised the administration’s response — including both the declaration and the cooperation between federal and local officials.
“They just appeared,” Trump said of the tornadoes. “And we’re working very hard, FEMA’s doing a great job,” he said.
At least 25 people were killed when storms ripped through the state on Tuesday, officials said.
Trump told reporters of stories he had heard of the victims, including one boy who had been ripped out of his home by the storm and landed two blocks away.
The weather service said that the tornado that hit Putnam was an EF-4 tornado, categorized as extreme between 166 and 200 mph. Local officials said it was on the ground for about two miles.
Amid the damage was more than 100 destroyed buildings, downed power lines and a severely damaged airport.