Lee County Sheriff's Department

Lee Co. tornado
WKRG-TV via AP

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.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

Four Republican hopefuls are running for former House Speaker Mike Hubbard's legislative seat.

The Alabama Republican Party announced late last week that Jay Conner, Joe Lovvorn, Brett Smith and Sandy Toomer have all qualified to run for the Lee County House seat. No Democrats are running for the legislative district.

Hubbard was removed from office last month after a jury convicted him of 12 felony ethics charges. He was sentenced to serve four years in prison. Hubbard is appealing his conviction.

The primary election for the vacant seat will be held Sep. 13.