Death toll rises in wake of Alabama tornado

LEE County, Ala. – At least 23 people are dead after a powerful EF4 tornado carved a path of destruction across eastern Alabama Sunday. At least three of the victims are children.

The hardest hit area is the small rural community of Beauregard, east of Montgomery.  The twister was part of a powerful storm system that swept across the Deep South.

A day later, the images are overwhelming with east Alabama in ruins..

Governor Kay Ivey said, “We lost children mothers, fathers, neighbors and friends.”

Right now, teams are sifting through the rubble, searching for survivors and victims.

“I would describe the damage that we’ve seen in the area as catastrophic,” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said. From what forecasters say was an EF4 tornado with winds of 170 miles an hour.

Chris Darden with the National Weather Service said, “I estimated the path at almost a mile wide. A monster tornado as it moved across the area.  Early estimate: at least 24 miles long.”

Ripping apart everything in its path, as one resident described, “Next thing we know the wind starts ripping the house apart. We start seeing daylight because there is no roof. Then the ceiling fell on our heads.”

Families in the path of the storm described the horror. Survivor Liz Hickman said, “We got down on the floor and we was hugging each other and told them ya’ll just hang on and we was all just hanging on to each other.”

When the winds finally stopped, little was left. Survivor Jonathan Hickman said, “When I got there everything was wiped out, there was nothing left.”

The landscape—and lives here—forever changed.

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