Tennessee Asks Trump for Emergency Aid After Christmas Blast

By Zachary Stieber

Tennessee’s governor has requested emergency aid from President Donald Trump after a detonation rocked downtown Nashville on Christmas.

Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, released a letter dated Dec. 25 in which he recounted how a suspicious recreational vehicle was spotted by police officers around 6 a.m. before blowing up about 30 minutes later, inflicting injuries upon at least three people and triggering a slew of evacuations.

He also noted that Nashville Mayor John Cooper, a Democrat, issued an executive order declaring a civil emergency in the affected area, including a curfew through Sunday evening; that state authorities activated at a level 3, state of emergency level; and that the blast impacted AT&T communications across the state and in other states.

“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,” Lee wrote. “As a result, federal assistance under the Stafford Act is necessary to supplement the efforts and available resources of the State, local governments, disaster relief organizations, and compensation by insurance for disaster-related losses.”

Emergency personnel work near the scene of an explosion in downtown Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 25, 2020. (Mark Humphrey/AP Photo)
Broken window glass is scattered near the scene of an explosion in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 25, 2020. (Mark Humphrey/AP Photo)

The Stafford Act authorizes the federal government to send aid after major disasters or during emergencies.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lee said he toured the site of the bombing earlier Saturday.

“The damage is shocking and it is a miracle that no residents were killed,” he said, adding that he and his wife are praying for people injured in the explosion.

He also commended police officers whose actions, officials said, saved lives.

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