At least 22 people have been confirmed dead and many have been injured after a devastatingly large tornado hit a southeast Alabama community Sunday.
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said at least 12 of the deaths occurred in an area about 5 to 6 miles south of the city of Opelika. He also said that there were children too among the dead. Initially 14 deaths were reported, later the number reached to 22. Jones said “that number may rise yet again.”
The damage caused by the tornado appears “as if someone had taken a blade and just scraped the ground,” Jones said.
“I cannot recall, at least in the last 50 years, and longer than that, a situation where we have had this type, this loss of life that we experienced today,” Jones told media.
According to the National Weather Service, Alabama and Georgia were hit by at least a dozen tornadoes on Sunday. Lee County was hit by two tornadoes within one hour.
The current series of tornadoes and the destruction caused by it is being considered to be the deadliest after the ghostly Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado, which occurred in 2011 and killed more than 200 people.
People with severe injuries have been transported to East Alabama Medical Center. Search and rescue operations were run throughout Sunday, but the rescue team struggled due to diminishing lights.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey tweeted, “Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives in the storms that hit Lee County today. Praying for their families & everyone whose homes or businesses were affected. Officials from @AlabamaEma & other agencies are quickly working to provide assistance.”
Later on Sunday night, President Donald Trump also tweeted, “To the great people of Alabama and surrounding areas: Please be careful and safe. Tornadoes and storms were truly violent and more could be coming. To the families and friends of the victims, and to the injured, God bless you all!”
Alabama Emergency Management Agency said that post the tornado, no deaths have been reported in the state beyond Lee County.
According to the Weather Channel’s report, around 26,000 people did not have power in Georgia early Sunday evening and nearly 16,500 had no electricity in Alabama.