(CNN) — At least 22 people have died across central Tennessee as a result of severe storms and at least one tornado that raked Nashville and the region late Monday and early Tuesday, officials said.
The storms left numerous homes and other buildings in ruins across several counties, and left tens of thousands of people without power and hundreds at least temporarily looking for another place to live.
In Nashville, dozens of buildings were damaged, and more than 150 people have been taken to hospitals because of the storm, city Fire Chief William Swann said.
In Nashville’s Germantown area alone, parts of apartment and other multi-story buildings were ripped open, with bricks, roofing material and glass strewn about, images from CNN affiliate WTVF show.
“As tragic as this is — and our hearts are broken — we are certain that we’ll surround these folks and we’ll do what is necessary” to recover, Gov. Bill Lee said.
The Cookeville area in Putnam County, some 80 miles east of Nashville, was especially hard hit. These deaths have been reported, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency:
• 16 in Putnam County
• Three in Wilson County
• Two in Davidson County, which includes Nashville
• One in Benton County
Tornadoes were reported at least three times along a 145-mile stretch, from the small city of Camden just after 11 p.m. CT, through Nashville after midnight, and into the Cookeville area in Putnam County shortly before 2 a.m., the National Weather Service said.
“There are a couple of tragic cases, in one case a tree falling on a car … so we need to monitor that very carefully,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper told WTVF.
“We all worry about some people being left in some buildings that have been damaged and I know the first responders are working their way through that problem,” Cooper said.
In Nashville’s Germantown area, scraps of wood and metal lined the street as people stood outside in their pajamas with their pets surveying the damage.
A resident of the area who didn’t give her name told WTVF the tornado woke her up as it ripped the roof off part of her building.
“It just woke you out of your sleep,” she said. “I’m lucky my side didn’t get torn off. The other side is totally torn off.”
“When you’re inside it’s one thing, but to walk outside and see this, it’s bad,” the woman told the affiliate.
Country music artist Taylor Hicks, a Nashville resident and Season 5 winner of “American Idol” in 2006, told HLN that a tornado damaged homes near his Germantown neighborhood.
“There’s homes leveled. There’s churches that have been hit by this. There’s been a lot of people that’s been affected in downtown Nashville. It’s been a rough night,” Hicks said.
Officers who specialize in urban search and rescue are being called in, Nashville police said. Rescuers are focusing their efforts in Germantown, East Nashville and Hermitage, according to Joseph Pleasant, spokesman with the Nashville Office of Emergency Management.