Deaths reported in Beauregard, Alabama after tornado
The death toll stood at 23 Monday afternoon after powerful tornadoes rolled through Alabama and Middle Georgia Sunday, causing widespread damage and destruction.
Chris Darden with the National Weather Service said three tornadoes total were tracked through Alabama and Middle Georgia Sunday.
The strongest and deadliest was an EF-4 “monster tornado” that ravaged the small Alabama town of Beauregard.
NWS tracked an E-1 storm in Macon and Lee counties that crossed paths with the EF-4 storm. Another EF-1 was confirmed in Barbour County.
Update on victims
Lee County Coroner Bill Harris said most of the next of kin of those who died in the tornado have been notified. Among the dead were three children, ages 6, 9 and 10.
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The Alabama governor, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones, Harris and Darden gave media an update at Beauregard High School.
Jones asked the public not to come into the affected areas in Beauregard, as 23 people have been confirmed dead and drones, helicopters are search parties still have work to do.
“We still have lots of people who are unaccounted for at this time,” Jones said.
Dozens of home sites are left to search, using addresses provided by families of missing residents.
“The folks in Beauregard are resilient people,” he said.
The death toll in Beauregard is the worst in the U.S. since tornadoes that hit Moore, Oklahoma, in 2013, Darden said.
Twenty-four houses were destroyed in Smiths Station and two people were injured in the tornado.
“Today, all of Alabama is focused on Lee County,” Gov. Kay Ivey said during the new conference.
Reporters are waiting at Beauregard High School to hear from Governor Kay Ivey and Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones. We will update readers as the conference continues.
Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp declared a state of emergency in Grady, Harris and Talbot counties. This will deploy state assistance after the storms and tornadoes.
The declaration activates the Georgia Emergency Operation Plan.
At least 23 died in Beauregard, Alabama, and dozens of homes were destroyed, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said in a live-stream Monday morning.
The path of destruction from the tornado was about 1 mile long and a half-mile wide.
The youngest victim was 6.
The major damage area was concentrated in a square mile along Alabama 51 at Lee Roads 38 and 39.
The debris field was hundreds of yards long.
About 8,000 - 10,000 people live in the affected area, Jones said.
Jones has about 200 people working in search and rescue teams in Lee County. Helicopters and drones are aiding in the search for survivors.
Road closures in Lee County:
- Lee Road 166 at Lee Road 40: Closed indefinitely until storm debris is cleared and damage can be assessed.
- Lee Road 165 at Lee Road 40: Closed indefinitely until storm debris is cleared and damage can be assessed.
- Lee Road 721: Closed indefinitely
Providence Baptist Church at 2807 Lee Road in Beauregard has opened a Red Cross shelter for those impacted by the storms.
Greater Peace Missionary Baptist church has opened as a supply drop off.
Smith Station Volunteer Fire Department in Smiths Station is a designated area of shelter for those impacted by the storms.