The death toll has risen to 23 after multiple tornadoes ripped through Lee County in eastern Alabama. Among the victims are an eight year old child, while authorities are still working to identify the bodies.
The damage to homes and the surrounding areas has been described as “catastrophic” by County Sheriff Jay Jones. More bodies are expected to be found as rescue crews work through the destruction.
According to the National Weather Service, the winds classified as “EF-3” meaning speeds of up to 165 mph. The National Weather Service also reminded people to “stay out of damaged areas so first responders could do their job”.
The tornadoes first touched down at 2pm on Sunday about 60 miles east of Montgomery, the state capital, in a town called Beauregard. The winds brought down telephone poles, ripped roofs off of houses, and destroyed local businesses.
A local resident, Scott Fillmer, was interviewed by the BBC and said: “Everything just kind of went dark, when it was almost like night outside. And it’s that old cliché that it sounds like a freight train coming, well that’s what it sounded like.”
Tornado warnings were also issued for South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Tornadoes caused some damage in Talbotton, a town about 80 miles south of Atlanta while tornadoes were also reported in Walton County and Cairo in northern Florida.
Tornado season typically begins in April and continues to June, making this event an unusual occurrence for the area.