Alabama

23 dead, homes and property ruined. A look at the numbers behind the Alabama tornado

Aerial footage shows Alabama tornado damage

A tornado ripped through the rural Alabama community of Beauregard on Sunday. At least 23 people were killed. Drone footage shows some of the destruction the tornado left behind.
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A tornado ripped through the rural Alabama community of Beauregard on Sunday. At least 23 people were killed. Drone footage shows some of the destruction the tornado left behind.

One week ago today, a deadly string of tornadoes touched down in Alabama and Georgia. With months of rebuilding ahead in several communities, a look by-the-numbers at the immediate aftermath.

Twenty-three people died in the twisters in Beauregard, ranging in age from 6 to 89. Ninety were injured and as of Thursday, four remained in critical condition in three area hospitals but were expected to recover.

Ten. One family, who met with President Donald Trump when he toured the area on Friday, lost 10 members of their extended family to the tornado.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Trump said.

Six states were affected by the severe weather that spawned the tornadoes: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina.

In all, an estimated 38 tornadoes touched down across the South on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Twelve of those were in Alabama and four touched down in Lee County.

170. That was the maximum wind speed of the strongest of the twisters, the Beauregard/Smiths Station tornado, responsible for the 23 deaths and the brunt of the destruction. Its path of damage was 26.73 miles long, 1,600 yards wide. Authorities were still calculating property losses late last week, but the winds destroyed mobile homes in its path, toppled trees and tore down at least one of what the National Weather Service said was a “well anchored and well constructed home.”

The Baker family lost most of their house, but survived the storm, with father Granadas shielding the family as they huddled in a bathroom. Around them, mobile homes were obliterated.

“It makes us wonder how we got so lucky,” said Baker’s wife, Shiraka, 44. Even the family’s cat, Precious, survived. “God is not done with us yet.”

The National Weather Service reported that the twister crossed the Chattahoochee River and “continued to produce extensive damage in Georgia.”

Only one other tornado caused injuries: the Davisville/Corbett Crossroad twister, which injured one. That tornado had a damage path 29.15 miles long, 1,300 yards wide and a maximum wind speed of 115 miles per hour.

The deadly Beauregard tornado was rated an EF-4 — the second highest rating on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which rates tornadoes by their intensity and the damage they cause. The EF-4 category is reserved for tornadoes with three-second wind gusts between 166 miles per hour and 200 miles per hour.

The tornado was the deadliest in the U.S. since May 2013 when an EF-5 tornado killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma. And it was the deadliest March tornado in Alabama since nearly 300 were killed on March 21, 1932.

Chris Darden, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama, talks at a Monday afternoon press conference in Beauregard, Alabama about the tornadoes that struck Sunday afternoon.

At least 200. That’s how many Federal Emergency Management Agency officials were on the ground, according to Kathrine Carson, director of the Lee County Emergency Management Agency, who told President Donald Trump during a tour of the worst-hit areas on Friday that the FEMA employees reported to the Emergency Operations Center and “are willing to work and do anything they can for these people.”

As of Friday, 1,352 volunteers had registered to pitch in with recovery, searching for personal belongings, removing debris and assisting families. Lee County opened two volunteer reception centers over the weekend and reported it had been “overwhelmed at the amount of help.”

The American Red Cross said it has more than 100 disaster workers on the ground and the Christian relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, said it had 300 volunteers helping to collect belongings and remove fallen trees and debris and planned to expand its efforts into Georgia.

$184,000. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians donated the money to cover the funeral costs for all 23 tornado victims. Crosses for Losses, based in Illinois, put up 23 white painted wooden crosses at Providence Baptist Church and Lowe’s Home Improvement and Daphne Search and Rescue donated 23 solar-powered lights to keep the display visible at night.

$10,000. Former NFL Super Bowl champion DeMarcus Ware, a graduate of nearby Auburn High School, donated the money to pay for grave markers for all 23 victims.

Lesley Clark works out of the McClatchy Washington bureau, covering all things Kentucky for McClatchy’s Lexington Herald-Leader. A former reporter for McClatchy’s Miami Herald, she also spent several years covering the White House.


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