NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As Middle Tennessee is preparing for more severe weather, communities are still recovering from tornadoes last weekend.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) confirmed there were 15 weather-related fatalities, including one in Henry County, after the storms moved through on Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1.

The agency’s last report on Monday, April 3 stated there were 527 structures with confirmed damage.

“Really those first 12 hours at night, we just had to sit there and watch and get whatever information we could,” said TEMA Operations Administrator Jason Arbogast. “It wasn’t till daybreak, when we were getting a better picture of what exactly happened, what was hit, where the tornadoes went, where that damage was. So it is very difficult to respond to that and to know where the response needs are and where we can help.”

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) shared pictures from Wayne County, saying crews have been busy cleaning up debris. That’s after an EF-2 tornado with winds of 130 miles per hour.

“When it hits Shelby County or Davidson County like that, there are very few requests because they’re so robust, and they’re able to provide things quickly,” said Arbogast. “We’ve had counties like Cannon and Tipton and Wayne counties in the state that have far less resources. They asked for everything from shelters, to road crews, to chainsaw teams, food, access to medical supplies and things like that for the communities.”

He said another challenge was that the storm impacts were so widespread.

“We are prepared for any kind of disaster. But when it’s that spread out, it spreads staff then spreads resources, then we have to look at different ways to getting resources to unusual places,” said Arbogast. “We can’t just make one kind of staging area. We have to move things all over the state at the same time to make sure everybody’s getting the same response, the same access to resources and things like that.”

Governor Bill Lee requested federal emergency assistance for 10 counties impacted by the tornadoes and severe storms.

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“We get a good number, a good idea of exactly what damage we have, where we have it. From there, we’re putting together a letter to take to FEMA to show them what we have, what our damages are. They will come down and go through the assessment with us. And from there, we will start moving federal resources and setting up the things that people need to get back on their feet with FEMA support.”

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