Devastating Tornadoes in Tennessee Displace 250 Army Families at Fort Campbell, Service Says

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Debris covers the area around homes destroyed in the West Creek Farms neighborhood of Clarksville, Tenn.
Debris covers the area around homes destroyed in the West Creek Farms neighborhood of Clarksville, Tenn., on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023. (Mark Zaleski/AP Photo)

About 250 Army families at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, were displaced after tornadoes and other severe weather ravaged the area over the weekend, a service spokesperson said on Sunday.

The tornadoes that touched down Saturday caused major destruction, knocking out the power grid, leveling entire neighborhoods and forcing thousands of Tennesseans from their homes. The damage was especially severe in Clarksville, the town outside of the base, where a 150-mph tornado touched down.

As of Monday morning, there were no reported fatalities among Fort Campbell personnel or their families. One civilian associated with the base was injured, but it was not immediately clear if that was a civilian worker for a family member. Roughly 1,100 Fort Campbell soldiers and family members were without critical services such as water, heat or electricity, and those utilities could take a week or longer to repair, according to a spokesperson.

The base, which is home to the 101st Airborne Division, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and 5th Special Forces Group, sits at the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

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"Our community has been hard hit by tragedy this year and it is humbling to see our community come together again and again despite it all," Col. Chris Midberry, the Fort Campbell garrison commander, told Military.com in a statement. "We are honored to be a part of this community, we thank you for your support, and we will continue to support you as well."

Due to the displacement and damage to the local area, only mission-essential personnel were ordered to report to work at the installation on Monday. At least 271 homes and other buildings in Clarksville were damaged to the point of being uninhabitable, and more than 400 others also sustained damage, according to local officials.

    Six people died Saturday when tornadoes touched down in Clarksville and neighboring counties near Nashville, which is about 40 miles to the south. The death toll could rise as emergency crews shift through the debris this week.

    The area saw up to 13 tornadoes, according to reporting from the Tennessean. Roughly 18,000 homes and businesses around Fort Campbell had no electricity as of Monday morning, according to PowerOutage.us, a power outage tracking database.

    Fort Campbell sustained no obvious significant damage. All of its key buildings, including the hospital, had power, but officials were still assessing the tornado's impact. The YMCA on base had clothes, diapers, toiletries and other items for soldiers and families affected by the tornadoes.

    "I hope all those soldiers are safe after the tornado hit Clarksville," Michael Grinston, the director of the Army Emergency Relief Fund, or AER, said in a statement on LinkedIn. "Remember, if soldiers need help, reach out to AER." The Army Emergency Relief Fund provides soldiers with interest-free loans and grants. Grinston served as the previous sergeant major of the Army.

    It's unclear whether local National Guard units will be deployed to respond to the damage in Clarksville and neighboring towns. A spokesperson for the Tennessee National Guard did not respond to a request for comment.

    Editor's note: This story was updated with new numbers of families and soldiers affected by the tornadoes.

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