Rescuers tore through rubble and wreckage Monday in a search for survivors amid homes torn from foundations, shredded metal dangling from battered trees and dead animals lying among debris after a powerful tornado ripped through southeast Alabama and killed at least 23 people, including children.
The trail of destruction from the Sunday tornado was at least half a mile wide and overwhelmed rural Lee County’s coroners’ office, forcing it to call in help from the state. Volunteers used chain saws to help clear paths for emergency responders. At the R&D Grocery on Monday morning, residents were constantly asking each other if they were OK.
“I’m still thanking God I’m among the living,” said John Jones, who has lived most of his life in Beauregard, a tiny unincorporated community of roughly 10,000 people that’s about 60 miles east of Montgomery near the Alabama-Georgia line.
The Sunday tornado, which had winds that appeared to be around 160 mph (257 kph) or greater, was part of a powerful storm system that also slashed its way across the Deep South, spawning numerous tornado warnings in parts of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.