Tornadoes Ravage Alabama, Killing 23

Search and rescue efforts were in full effect Monday for victims of two devastating emergencies – a pair of tornadoes. The twisters ripped through parts of Alabama on Sunday, and at least 23 are dead in one county.

Sheriff Jay Jones of Lee County reports that the victims include children. About half of the fatal victims were located five miles south of the city of Opelika.

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Searching through the wreckage

Personnel from different agencies throughout Georgia are leading the search for bodies throughout the storm’s path. Monday’s search was executed in quadrants, focusing mostly on the most damaged areas that suffered from the most emergencies.

Mass damage has been done to structures and homes. Notably, a cell tower collapsed onto U.S. Route 280 in Lee County. Jones says that sites where houses once stood now just look like slabs. Contents from homes have been found as far as 1,000 yards away, indicating a very wide storm track to search.

Jones is thankful for residents who have stepped up to offer help, but encourages neighbors to stay home where it is safe and let authorities do their job in the case of emergencies.

Five-minute warning

According to data from the National Weather Service, the first tornado warning for Lee County was issued at 2:58 p.m. The first reported damage occurred just five minutes later at 3:03 p.m.

Worse still, a second tornado touched down within an hour of the first. The second tornado warning was issued 13 minutes ahead of touchdown.

Overall, a dozen or more tornadoes hit Alabama on Sunday. The 23 deaths that have been reported make for the deadliest tornado Alabama has seen since 2011, when the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado killed over 200 people.

Further damage in Georgia

An airport and fire station located along the Alabama-Georgia border were destroyed.

Elsewhere in Talbotton, Georgia, 15 or more structures, including homes and an apartment building, were obliterated by a tornado. Six people have sustained injuries, with the worst reported injury being a possible broken leg.

Crews are checking with residents on the outskirts and setting up shelters for victims who suffered from these emergencies.