Children Identified Among Tennessee Tornado Victims

At least two children have died after tornadoes brought on by a powerful thunderstorm ripped through Tennessee over the weekend.

Officials in Madison, a suburb of Nashville, confirmed on Saturday that two adults and a child had died after a twister ripped through their home. Metropolitan Nashville Police Department identified them as Joseph Dalton, 37, Floridema Gabriel Perez, 31, and Perez’s son, 2-year-old Anthony Elmer Mendez.

At the same time, another three people were confirmed as dead in Clarksville, including a child. Family and colleagues later identified the child as 10-year-old Arlan Burnham.

Newsweek approached the City of Clarksville and Nashville’s Office of Emergency Management via email for comment on Monday.

Tennessee tornado damage
Residents and visitors work to clear debris of a destroyed home in the aftermath of a tornado on December 10, 2023 in Clarksville, Tennessee. Six people have been confirmed to have died due to the storm, two of whom were children.
Jon Cherry/Getty Images

At least 13 tornadoes powered across the state during Saturday’s severe weather, destroying properties and downing power lines. The widespread destruction left thousands without power and prompted Clarksville to declare a state of emergency.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Nashville assessed on Sunday that the tornado that fell over Clarksville to have an Enhanced Fujita rating of 3, with winds of up to 150 miles an hour, while another over Madison was preliminarily judged to be an EF 2 with winds of 125 miles an hour. The ratings are estimates based on the level of damage a tornado causes.

As of just before noon local time (1 p.m. ET), the City of Clarksville said in an update that emergency workers had found 91 structures to be “totally destroyed,” many of which were residential dwellings, 271 structures had major damage making them uninhabitable and a further 404 with minor or moderate damage.

Montgomery County confirmed the three deaths in Clarksville on Saturday evening, but did not name the victims. Burnham was identified by his parents in Facebook posts, and a crowdfunding page for the family to pay for funeral costs that has raised over $80,000 since being set up on Sunday.

“Yesterday our home was in the direct path of a tornado. My beautiful baby boy, Arlan, did not make it out of the house,” Katherine Burnham, Arlan’s mother, said. “We don’t know how to navigate through this. We have no idea what is next. Anyone who knows me at all knows how much I love and adore my kids, all kids really. I cannot put into words how absolutely devastated I am.”

She added that her other two children had been able to make it out alive, with one sustaining minor injuries.

I have tried to call as many of you personally as possible but I just can’t keep retelling this.Yesterday our home was in the direct path of a…

Mayor Joe Pitts described the deaths as “devastating news” and said: “Our hearts are broken for the families of those who lost loved ones.”

Metro Nashville Police said Dalton, Perez and Mendez had died on Nesbitt Lane in Madison after the tornado rolled over Perez’s house and Dalton’s mobile home. It added that Perez’s other son, 7, and Dalton’s 10-year-old son had both been at their respective homes at the time, and were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Aerial footage of the road taken during a flyover by police shows extensive damage to properties, including several that had been razed and one which was tipped over on its side.