Nashville explosion: Tennessee governor asks Trump for federal disaster relief after Christmas Day bombing

Nashville explosion: Tennessee governor asks Trump for federal disaster relief after Christmas Day bombing

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has called on President Trump for federal emergency disaster relief following the “intentional” explosion that rocked downtown Nashville on  Christmas morning.

An estimated 41 businesses were damaged in the bombing, and many residents have been displaced. Three people were injured. 

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In a letter shared Friday on Twitter, Lee detailed other impacts.

“The explosions directly impacted AT&T’s communication systems across the State of Tennessee with additional impacts across Kentucky and northern Alabama,” he wrote.

The system failure impacted residential phones, cell phone service and over 20 Public Safety Answering Points that serve as 911 call centers. It also grounded inbound and outbound flights at Nashville International Airport for a portion of the day, the governor said.

A law enforcement member walks past damage from an explosion in downtown Nashville, Tenn., Friday, Dec. 25, 2020. Buildings shook in the immediate area and beyond after a loud boom was heard early Christmas morning. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

A law enforcement member walks past damage from an explosion in downtown Nashville, Tenn., Friday, Dec. 25, 2020. Buildings shook in the immediate area and beyond after a loud boom was heard early Christmas morning. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

The Federal Aviation Association has since issued a temporary flight restriction around the airport, requiring pilots to follow strict procedures until Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.

Lee said federal assistance is needed “to supplement the efforts and available resources of the State, local governments, disaster-relief organizations, and compensation by insurance for disaster-related losses.”

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Between February 2019 and December 2020, the state of Tennessee spent “well over” $ 175 million in managing response and recovery activities for large events without seeking federal assistance, Lee wrote.

As a result, most counties and cities do not have the staffing or resources available “to perform simultaneous cost accounting and continue response activities,” the letter states.

An audio countdown emanated from the RV warning of a bomb and for those in the area to evacuate. (FBI) 

An audio countdown emanated from the RV warning of a bomb and for those in the area to evacuate. (FBI) 

“These extraordinary state and local expenditures have reduced our capacity to recover from this current event,” Lee said. “Given these factors, the severity and magnitude of the current situation is such that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments.”

In a follow-up letter addressed to Trump on Saturday, Tennessee Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Lamar Alexander reiterated Lee’s call for federal disaster relief, noting that the “site of the explosion remains an active crime scene.”

“The disaster is placing a significant financial burden on the state, local governments, and impacted individuals,” they said.

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency officials have been working to coordinate that state’s response to the disaster with Metro Nashville Police, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

“We are grateful for their efforts to respond to our communities’ needs. First responders and law enforcement officials have been working nonstop over the holiday on this investigation and we appreciate their bravery,” the senators wrote.

A member of the FBI Evidence Response Team photographs the entrance of a home Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. An explosion that shook the largely deserted streets of downtown Nashville early Christmas morning shattered windows, damaged buildings, and wounded three people. Authorities said they believed the blast was intentional. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

A member of the FBI Evidence Response Team photographs the entrance of a home Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. An explosion that shook the largely deserted streets of downtown Nashville early Christmas morning shattered windows, damaged buildings, and wounded three people. Authorities said they believed the blast was intentional. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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Nashville Mayor John Cooper declared a civil emergency in the area of the explosion and implemented a curfew that continues until 4:30 p.m. Sunday. 

Invesitgators continue to search for a motive in the blast and haven’t ruled out a suicide attack.  The explosives used were in an RV parked on a downtown street, police said.  A recorded message broadcast from the vehicle warned people in the area to evacuate.

At a press conference Friday evening, Police Chief John Drake said tissue has been found near the scene of the explosion that could be human remains, but no fatalities have been declared at this time. 

On Saturday, federal agents converged on the home of a possible “person of interest” in Antioch, in suburban Nashville, as investigators scoured hundreds of tips and leads.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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