Lee Co. tornado

BEAUREGARD, Ala. (WTVM-TV) — The grandparents of the youngest victim of a deadly tornado in Alabama have traveled to Tennessee to help those affected by storms that hit exactly one year after their family tragedy.

Six-year-old Armando “AJ” Hernandez Jr. died in the tornado that tore through Beauregard, Alabama, on March 3, 2019. WTVM-TV reports his grandparents, Bobby and Leanne Kidd, went to Tennessee on Friday to give supplies to victims of the March 3, 2020, tornado.

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Jeff Haller / New York Times

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump headed to Alabama on Friday to survey the damage from a deadly tornado that devastated a small town, killing nearly two dozen people.

Trump was expected to tour rural Lee County in eastern Alabama, where 23 people died Sunday in a massive EF4 tornado that carved a path of destruction nearly a mile wide with 170 mph (270 kph) winds.

It was one of at least 38 tornadoes confirmed to have touched down across the Southeast in a deadly weekend outbreak.

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BEAUREGARD, Ala. (AP)-- Rescue crews didn't have to stumble through every destroyed building in their search for victims after a tornado ravaged a corner of Alabama this week: They used heat-seeking drones to let them know whether there was anyone beneath the ruins.

In so doing, they joined the increasing ranks of public safety agencies across the U.S. and around the world that have employed unmanned thermal-imaging aircraft during critical situations, including manhunts, wildfires and other natural disasters.

Lee Co. tornado

BEAUREGARD, Ala. (AP) — All those listed as missing have been found and searches ended with no additional bodies discovered among the shattered homes, splintered pines and broken lives devastated by a tornado in rural Alabama, leaving the death toll at 23, authorities said Wednesday.

"We are still in standby mode on the outside chance they find somebody else, which is not likely," Lee County Coroner Bill Harris told a news conference.

Associated Press

BEAUREGARD, Ala. (AP) — The youngest victim was 6, the oldest 89. One extended family lost seven members.

The 23 people killed in the nation's deadliest tornado in nearly six years came into focus Tuesday with the release of their names by the coroner.

Associated Press

BEAUREGARD, Ala. (AP) — Picking through the twisted debris that had been her Alabama mobile home, Carol Dean found her wedding dress and a Father's Day note to her husband reading, "Daddy, I love you to pieces."

Her husband was "done and gone," she said, one of 23 victims of what one National Weather Service meteorologist called a "monster tornado."

BEAUREGARD, AL-- The rescue and recovery efforts are just getting underway in Lee County in east Alabama after a deadly tornado. Disaster officials have said the EF-4 tornado killed at least 23 people. The storm was estimated to be a half mile wide and tore a path of destruction a mile long.

APR’s Pat Duggins sat down with one woman from the community of Beauregard who made it out alive.

“Oh boy, the wind was so high and I heard like a little roar and heard those trees popping," said Peggy Hutcheson of Beauregard.

We met her at the Red Cross Shelter at Providence Baptist Church in Opeleika. Hutcheson came in for a cup of coffee and a chance to catch her breath. She lost her home in Beauregard during Sunday’s tornado. It was the sound of the trees she remembers most.

“I don’t know, little a pin, pop, pop, pop, like firecrackers," she recalled, "and that wind was so strong. I thought that was it.”

It wasn't just the sounds Hutcheson remembers. The storm was followed by the smell of pine and earth that was torn up by the winds. Hutcheson said Sunday was also proof that no one’s luck lasts forever.

“Three years ago one came through and missed us. This time we're 3, 4 foot from it,” she said.

The sounds and smells of a tornado like the one that hit Beauregard and Lee County are nothing new to residents of Tuscaloosa like Steve Miller. He was the first person Alabama Public Radio spoke with following the tornado that tore through town on April 27, 2011.

“The sound was the loudest thing I ever heard. It was so loud, I couldn’t heard it anymore,” Miller said.

And then there was human toll. Back in 2011, the storm killed over 50 people. A man who lived near Miller found one of the victims.

“My neighbor who lived two houses went into his backyard and found a young lady wrapped around one of his trees,” Miller recalled. “She had passed away.”

Lee Co. tornado

BEAUREGARD, Ala. (AP) — Rescuers began tearing through the rubble of mobile homes and houses Monday in search of survivors of a powerful tornado that rampaged through southeast Alabama and killed at least 23 people, including children.

The trail of destruction was at least half a mile wide and overwhelmed rural Lee County's coroners' office, forcing it to call in help from the state.

"It looks like someone almost just took a giant knife and scraped the ground," Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said of the devastation during a Monday morning news conference.