Officials say a powerful EF4 tornado, cutting a path of destruction almost a mile wide, caused the devastation Sunday in rural Beauregard, Alabama.
What Is an EF4 Tornado?
Tornadoes are measured on the Enhanced Fujita scale from 0 to 5 based on intensity and damage caused. At that level, the tornado is considered to be devastating and can bring widespread damage to the area.
Auburn is now working with local authorities to plan more ways to aid in relief efforts, according to athletic director Allen Greene and basketball coach Bruce Pearl - who said he lives near one of the hardest-hit areas.
U.S. President Donald Trump is hugged by a resident who survived a tornado, as First Lady Melania Trump stands by, in Beauregard, Alabama, U.S., March 8, 2019. Most widely recognized as the home of the SEC's Auburn Tigers, Lee's county seat sits in Auburn, located on the east side of Lee County.
On Sunday, Troy Bell saw the tornado and quickly gathered his family to huddle in the bathtub.
"Our dear friends, Ashley and David Thornton lost their precious daughter, Taylor in that storm", the friend, Kaitlyn Willing, wrote on the GoFundMe page. Fortunately, he told the Montgomery Adviser, his family remained unharmed, although, that's not been the case for other people he knew.
Ivey said she was surprised there weren't more deaths from the Sunday twister. "Their whole families are dead".
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"It's very bad", 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.
"It's hard to believe", the president told reporters.
The twister was rated as an EF-4 tornado, a classification of the veracity of the natural disasters that usually take place in the United States in the fittingly-named "Tornado Alley" in the Midwest.
It was the deadliest tornado to hit the US since May 2013, when an EF5 twister killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma.
Darden said the "monster tornado" was the deadliest twister to hit the USA since May 2013, when an EF-5 killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma. "Unfortunately, we anticipate the number of fatalities may rise".
Steve Marshall said he's never seen storm damage like what's left behind in Lee County. "Some of these families have lost practically nearly the entire family".
Convoy of Hope's Disaster Services Team deployed Sunday night from Springfield, Mo., and made their way to Lee County, Ala. after a devastating outbreak of tornadoes swept through Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and SC.
Earlier in the day, members of the Alabama congressional delegation who represent the areas impacted by the March 3 tornadoes sent a letter to Trump in support of Ivey's request for an expedited major disaster declaration for the state of Alabama.
"My prayers are with Governor Ivey and all of the people of Alabama affected by the powerful tornadoes", said Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. "I'm happy to report that the reports have been few, and we aim to keep it that way".