All people missing in deadly Alabama tornadoes accounted for

President Donald Trump set to visit the state on Friday

Posted: Mar 5, 2019 10:57 AM
Updated: Mar 6, 2019 4:47 PM

BEAUREGARD, Ala. (AP) - The Latest on the impact of a tornado in Alabama and Georgia (all times local):

2:10 p.m.

Lee County Tornado Damage (Photo courtesy Cajun Navy 2016)

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey toured tornado damage in rural Lee County, where 23 people perished over the weekend.

"It's awful," the governor told reporters Wednesday as she took a walking tour past shattered mobile homes as residents hunted amid piles of debris for belongings they could salvage.

Ivey first toured the area by helicopter, then set out on foot along a county road where many fatalities occurred.

Ivey said she was surprised there weren't more deaths from the Sunday twister. She said she hoped the devastation would bring "awareness that when you hear the first alert, you need to take shelter."

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1:30 p.m.

Forecasters say the tornado that slammed into Beauregard, Alabama, scraped the ground for one hour and 16 minutes as it tracked nearly 69 miles (111 kilometers) across Alabama and Georgia.

That means the Sunday tornado traveled at an average speed of nearly 55 mph (89 kph) - a common speed for cars and trucks on many of the highways it crossed.

Details of the storm track come from a newly compiled National Weather Service report.

Twenty-three people were killed and dozens more were injured when the EF4 twister ripped through Beauregard. The youngest of those killed was 6, the oldest 89.

Although the tornado lost some intensity in Georgia, forecasters say it still destroyed several homes in the state and injured 7 people in the area of Talbotton, Georgia. No deaths were reported in Georgia.

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10:15 a.m.

Officials overseeing the disaster response to a tornado-stricken community in Alabama say all people reported missing have been accounted for with no increase in the death toll.

Lee County Coroner Bill Harris told a news conference Wednesday that the death toll stands at 23, but his office is "in standby mode on the outside chance they find somebody else, which is not likely."

Sheriff Jay Jones said the disaster response will now shift to recovery following two full days of searching.

Officials say a powerful EF4 tornado, cutting a path of destruction nearly a mile wide, caused the devastation Sunday in rural Beauregard, Alabama.

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9:55 a.m.

Government survey teams have confirmed at least 34 tornadoes struck the Southeast in the deadly weekend outbreak that devastated a rural community in Alabama.

The National Weather Service says a violent storm system Sunday spawned at least 11 twisters in Alabama and 14 more across Georgia. Five tornadoes have been confirmed in Florida, and four more in South Carolina.

The most powerful was an EF4 tornado blamed for killing 23 people in Beauregard, Alabama, as it traveled roughly 70 miles (112 kilometers) on a path that also left a trail of destruction in western Georgia.

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9:40 a.m.

Forecasters say tornado-ravaged Alabama and several other southern states will soon be under threat of more severe storms.

The national Storm Prediction Center says there's a risk of some tornadoes with the system that's arriving in the South this weekend. The Storm Prediction Center says a vast part of the region from Texas to Georgia will be under threat of severe weather Saturday.

The area at risk of storms is home to 41 million people and includes major cities such as Dallas, New Orleans and Atlanta. Also included in the region is most of Alabama, including the small community of Beauregard where crews have been searching through rubble after 23 people were killed by a tornado on Sunday.

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8:40 a.m.

Pope Francis is sending condolences to tornado victims in Alabama, where searchers have been scouring a dismal landscape of shattered homes, splintered pines and broken lives.

President Donald Trump said he'll visit Alabama on Friday to see the damage.

Twenty-three people were killed and dozens more were injured when the powerful tornado ripped through Lee County on Sunday. The youngest of those killed was 6, the oldest 89.

It was the deadliest tornado to hit the U.S. since May 2013, when an EF5 twister killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma.

7:16 a.m.

Two cousins have a hard time counting all the relatives they lost to a tornado that wiped out a rural community in Alabama.

Cordarrly Jones and Demetria Jones say their grandparents, an uncle and seven cousins are all gone. They are stunned by the loss and worried about still more family members who are hospitalized. They say just about everyone in the area near tiny Beauregard was related.

The deadliest U.S. tornado in nearly six years killed at least 23 people. The youngest victim was 6, the oldest 89.

The search for bodies, pets and belongings continued Tuesday in and around Beauregard. Sheriff Jay Jones says the list of the missing shrunk from dozens to just seven or eight.

7:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump has declared that a major disaster exists in Alabama and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in Lee County, where a tornado swept through and killed at least 23 people.

In a news release Tuesday, the Trump Administration said assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the disaster.

Damage assessments are continuing and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after those surveys are completed.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses can begin applying for help by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

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3:34 p.m.

A tornado that splintered homes, killed 23 people and injured 90 more in Alabama was the deadliest to hit the U.S. since May 2013, when a twister near Oklahoma City killed 24 people.

The twister that struck Beauregard , Alabama, was part of a powerful storm system that slashed its way across the Deep South, spawning at least 18 confirmed tornadoes in four states.

Mobile homes tucked among tall pine trees were swept from their bases and smashed into unrecognizable piles of rubble. Toys, clothes, insulation, water heaters and pieces of metal were scattered across the hillsides where once towering pines were snapped in half. The tornado swept up and scattered the debris so widely that the metal frames of two of those homes could not even be located.

Church chaplain Ike Mathews checked on emergency workers who found some of the bodies .

"They're hurting. The community is torn up. They started crying talking about it," said Mathews, an associate pastor at Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church.

Lee County tornado destruction in photos, videos

Before and After: Photos of home destroyed by Lee County tornado

Volunteers working to help survivors after EF-4 tornado ripped through Lee County

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3:20 p.m.

The National Weather Service has confirmed at least 20 tornadoes struck across the Southeast during a deadly weekend outbreak.

Reports from the agency's survey teams say storm systems crossing the region Sunday spun off tornadoes in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

The most powerful twister was an EF4 tornado packing 170 mph (275 kph) winds that's been blamed for at least 23 deaths in Lee County, Alabama. The weather service says that tornado crossed into western Georgia and traveled about 70 miles (112 kilometers) total.

The number of confirmed tornadoes could increase. Survey teams are still assessing storm damage in some areas.

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2:30 p.m.

An expert says the deadly tornado that struck Beauregard, Alabama, apparently rumbled about 70 miles (110 kilometers) across two states, ending in neighboring Georgia. That would make it among the longest-lived tornado to touch down in Alabama.

That distance approaches the 81-mile (130-kilometer) track of a twister that killed more than 60 people and demolished much of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in a "super outbreak" of several long-lasting tornadoes across the South on April 27, 2011.

Chris Darden, a meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service in Birmingham, said Tuesday that the tornado that struck Beauregard last weekend continued into Georgia. His colleagues were surveying damage from Sunday's tornado, adding the final track would likely be around 70 miles (110 kilometers).

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10:30 a.m.

An Alabama coroner says all 23 people found dead after a tornado have been identified and their bodies have been released to funeral homes. He said their ages range from 6 to 93, and that one family alone lost seven people.

Lee County Coroner Bill Harris says other coroners and funeral homes from around the state are pitching in to help prepare the victims for funerals.

Sheriff Jay Jones says "a lot of heavy equipment is coming in to pick up big portions of debris" in specific pockets of Beauregard where the search for more victims is now focused.

He says those areas are narrowed down from a broad spectrum to certain areas where there may be people or animals, and that they hope to transition from search-and-rescue to recovery later Tuesday. He said the number of missing people has narrowed from dozens to just "seven or eight."

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9:50 a.m.

Government teams surveying storm damage across the Southeast have confirmed that at least 18 tornadoes struck in a deadly weekend outbreak.

The National Weather Service says storm systems crossing the region Sunday spun off tornadoes in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina alone.

The most powerful twister was an EF4 tornado packing 170 mph (274 kph) winds that's been blamed for at least 23 deaths in Lee County, Alabama. The weather service says that tornado crossed into western Georgia and inflicted more damage.

The number of confirmed tornadoes could increase. Survey teams are still assessing storm damage in some areas.

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9:20 a.m.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones says the search for tornado victims is still active, with the crews now looking at a smaller area and specific piles of wreckage.

The sheriff said Tuesday that the list of unaccounted people is down to seven or eight.

He says law enforcement teams are working the area by foot with the help of cadaver-sniffing dogs and also searching by air. In one hard-hit area, a small excavator turned over pieces of splintered homes and trees, which firefighters then searched for signs of potential victims.

Jones says authorities are contacting family and friends of the missing to confirm their status, since some of those unaccounted-for may have checked in but not with authorities.

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7:50 a.m.

Forecasters say 90 people were injured in the tornado that also killed at least 23 people in the small community of Beauregard, Alabama.

The number of injured comes in a Tuesday report from the National Weather Service, forecasters say the tornado's damage path was nine-tenths of a mile (1.4 kilometers) wide and kept gaining intensity before slamming into Beauregard, Alabama.

Survey crews from the weather service documented how the deadly twister shredded manufactured homes, emptying their contents into the woods.

Forecasters said in the report that the tornado was strong enough to bend the frame of a car around what remained of a large tree. Based on the damage, they've determined that it was EF-4 tornado with 170 mph (274 kph) winds.

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12:40 a.m.

Residents of a small Alabama community hit by a powerful tornado are mourning the deaths of 23 people as they pick through shattered homes for salvageable belongings and crews search for more victims.

Carol Dean found her wedding dress Monday among the wreckage of her mobile home in Beauregard. But the storm took her husband. She said: "My life is gone."

Dean said her spouse, 53-year-old David Wayne Dean, was killed Sunday when the twister struck their home while she was at work. She said he had been texting a friend to beware of the approaching storm.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones says crews with dogs and drones have combed over the hardest-hit areas, but there's more searching to be done.

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