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Nashville tornado hits close to home for Winnipeg woman

Click to play video: 'Authorities concerned about the number of people still missing following tornadoes in Tennessee' Authorities concerned about the number of people still missing following tornadoes in Tennessee
Search and rescue efforts continued in central Tennessee Wednesday morning, where dozens remain missing following Monday night's deadly tornadoes – Mar 4, 2020

A tornado that ripped through Tennessee early Tuesday morning and killed at least two dozen people may seem like a world away from Manitoba, but for one Winnipegger now living in Nashville, it was very close to home.

“It’s scary, it’s sad,” said musician Leanne Pearson, a Winnipeg ex-pat who has lived in Music City for a number of years. “There are power lines down, buildings demolished… people have lost their lives. It’s surreal, it really is.

“We have a beautiful home that we’re very thankful has no damage to it, but the path of the tornado was about a mile away from us. Most of the devastation and the touchdown is only a few minutes away.”

Winnipeg country music singer Leanne Pearson. Shelden Rogers/Global News

Pearson told 680 CJOB she’s heard tornado sirens throughout her time in the city and has seen warnings on TV and radio, but this time was different.

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For the first time ever, Pearson and her fiancé received notifications on their phones in the middle of the night, which meant the tornado was very close.

“Because it happens so frequently here and there’s always tornado warnings, some people just don’t take it seriously and don’t seek shelter.

“It was overwhelming. You just realize how real it was – in the middle of the night, and to know all the people who have lost their homes and lives, it’s a really sad situation.”

READ MORE: At least 24 dead as tornadoes tear through Tennessee, including Nashville

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Dave and Kortney Wilson of ‘Masters of Flip.’. HGTV Canada / Corus Entertainment

HGTV star Kortney Wilson (Masters of Flip) also lives near the devastation, and she told 680 CJOB that only a few blocks away there were houses completely levelled by the tornado.

“We immediately took cover in our basement,” Wilson said.

“We don’t have these glorified basements like in Canada – they’re dirt basements if you have a basement at all.

“We all went down there and you don’t really know what’s going on, because you eventually lose power if it comes close enough. So you’re without power, without (phone) signals, and everything’s flashing in the house.”

Wilson, originally from Windsor, Ont., said she was at a hockey game prior to the disaster and decided to go home rather than stay out later with friends.

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“It’s so crazy. Something just told me I needed to come home,” she said. “It was the most bizarre feeling I had.

“Had I not, I would’ve been directly in the (tornado’s) path coming back to East Nashville.”

Wilson described the aftermath as looking like a “warzone,” but said she’s encouraged by the way neighbours are all lending a hand to help rebuild.

“(You) see people dropping things and picking up gloves and doing whatever they had to do, crawling up onto roofs and taking asphalt down, people hugging perfect strangers in the street.

“Thankfully today is just the most gorgeous day. It was an opportunity for everybody to actually pick up the pieces immediately.”

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Let me start out by saying that all of the Wilson’s are accounted for and our house is fine. Last night, a tornado hit Nashville and specifically our neighborhood. The devastation is unreal. Dave and the kids are all safe and sound and we plan on getting out there today and helping out the folks who were not so lucky. It is not new business for us to deal with tornadoes in the south. It was however a great lesson because sometimes we dismiss the warnings and this one that came in the middle of the night would’ve been easy to dismiss because we were all so tired. Thank goodness for the sirens and phone warming systems. You can see my Insta stories to hear the tornado sirens going off at one in the morning and loading the kids into the basement. We are all very grateful this morning and we are sending our ❤️ to everyone affected last night. This pic was taken in the middle of the night while we were crammed in our basement on top of hockey equipment. #nashvilletornado2020

A post shared by Kortney Wilson (@allthingskortneywilson) on

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Click to play video: 'Touring the aftermath of the devastating tornado near Alonsa, Manitoba' Touring the aftermath of the devastating tornado near Alonsa, Manitoba
Touring the aftermath of the devastating tornado near Alonsa, Manitoba – Aug 7, 2018

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