Nashville mayor says preparedness saved lives in 'war zone' left by Middle Tennessee twisters

Nashville Mayor John Cooper told Fox News Tuesday the swift actions of citizens and local government prevented greater loss of life Monday night after a tornado ripped through Tennessee's capital city.

Cooper, a Democrat, told "Your World" that two people had died in Nashville and surrounding Davidson County after multiple dangerous twisters affected Middle Tennessee. Officials said the storms had killed at least 22 people throughout the state.

"If you look at the specific areas, we had a tornado skip through the county," Cooper told host Neil Cavuto. "Time and time again you can see how blessed we were to only have two fatalities in this county. It could have been many, many more."

He said tornadoes hit Tennessee about twice a century, but the state saw another major twister about two decades ago that followed a similar path to the one that hit Monday night.


"[W]e are resilient. We are going to hug our loved ones and start to rebuild," Cooper said.

"I was just talking to the fire department. We got the warning that we planned for. These things are a little hard to predict ... we have between three and six minutes of alarm in the county. I do feel that actually probably saved a lot of lives. Some of the areas that I've been in, people have said they heard it, they moved, changed locations."

Cooper said the fact the tornado struck at night also spared the region further loss of life, as a school affected by the twister was empty and there were fewer people in Nashville's business district. A local airport was also largely vacant when the tornado came past it.

However, the capital had no warning before the last tornado, Cooper said.


Noting that Tennessee is holding its Republican and Democratic presidential primaries Tuesday, Cavuto asked Cooper whether the tornado has affected polling locations.

Cooper said 15 out of 169 voting precincts were affected by power outages and related incidents, and that the state government has heard from some of the campaigns -- which asked that polls be open later than scheduled. He added that many Tennesseeans have opted to take part in early voting, which is legal in the state.

"We didn't need for this Tuesday to be super in this way," he said. "We have brought the communities together and people are really out there helping each other because as you walk through these areas, it is a war zone. Twenty blocks at a time ... It's a blessing that we only had two fatalities that we know of in Davidson County."