All Latter-day Saint missionaries serving in the Nashville, Tennessee, region are safe and accounted for after several deadly tornadoes tore across parts of the Volunteer State early Tuesday.
No further information was immediately available regarding the status of local members, member homes or Church-owned properties, according to Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff.
The Nashville Tennessee Temple is located in the city of Franklin.
The tornadoes touched down early in the morning, killing at least 19 people and destroying dozens of buildings. Parts of downtown Nashville suffered severe damage and hundreds have been displaced from their homes, the Associated Press reported.
Daybreak on Tuesday, March 3, revealed a landscape littered with blown-down walls and roofs, snapped power lines and huge broken trees, leaving city streets in gridlock. Schools, courts, transit lines, an airport and the state Capitol were closed, and some damaged polling stations had to be moved only hours before Super Tuesday voting began, according to the AP report.
“Last night was a reminder about how fragile life is,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper said at a Tuesday morning news conference.
The tornadoes were reportedly spawned by a line of severe storms that stretched from Alabama into western Pennsylvania.
In Nashville, the twister’s path was mostly north and east of the heart of downtown, leaving many of its biggest tourism draws — the honky-tonks of Broadway, the Grand Ole Opry House, the storied Ryman Auditorium and the convention center — unharmed.
Instead, the storm tore through areas transformed by a recent building boom. Germantown and East Nashville are two of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods, with restaurants, music venues and high-end apartment complexes, the AP reported.
Home to over 50,000 Latter-day Saints, the Church has enjoyed a presence in Tennessee since 1834, when missionaries began teaching in the Southern U.S. state. Future Church President Wilford Woodruff and his missionary companion enjoyed remarkable success, baptizing dozens of people — and triggering the ire of several mobs.
The oldest existing Church building in the Southeast was dedicated in Tennessee’s Northcutts Cove in 1909.
Tennessee’s two temples — one in Nashville and the other in Memphis — were dedicated in 2000 on different days by President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency.