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Alabama's tornado dead range in age from 6 to 89

Damage in Lee County, Alabama | Photo: MGN Online

The following article was authored by The Associated Press.

Posted: Mar 5, 2019 1:24 PM

BEAUREGARD, Ala. (AP) — The youngest victim was 6, the oldest 89. One extended family lost seven members.

The 23 people killed in the nation's deadliest tornado in nearly six years came into focus Tuesday when the coroner finished identifying them and released their names.

They included 6-year-old Armando Hernandez Jr., known as "AJ," torn from his father's arms two days after singing in his first-grade class musical; 10-year-old Taylor Thornton, who loved horses and was visiting a friend's home when the twister struck; and David Wayne Dean, 53, nicknamed "Roaddog" because of his love for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

"Just keep those families in your prayers," Lee County Coroner Bill Harris said, two days after the disaster.

The search for victims, pets and belongings in and around the devastated rural community of Beauregard continued amid the din of beeping heavy machinery and whining chainsaws. But Sheriff Jay Jones said the list of the missing had shrunk from dozens to just seven or eight.

"We've got piles of rubble that we are searching just to make sure," said Opelika Fire Chief Byron Prather Jr. "We don't think we'll find nobody there, but we don't want to leave any stone unturned."

Four children were killed, ages 6, 8, 9 and 10. Prather said the mother of 6-year-old AJ rushed to the scene Sunday in distress.

"She just said her child was swept from the father's arms," Prather said. "A mother's love for her child. How do you tell a mom that she can't go look for her child? She went and tried to find her child, like everybody else."

Dean's body was found by his son in a neighbor's yard after the twister demolished his mobile home.

"He was done and gone before we got to him," said his sobbing widow, Carol Dean, who was at work at Walmart when the storm hit. "My life is gone. He was the reason I lived, the reason that I got up."

The tornado was an EF4 with winds estimated at 170 mph (274 kph) and chewed a path of destruction up to nine-tenths of a mile (1.4 kilometers) wide in Alabama for nearly 27 miles (43 kilometers), scraping up the earth in a phenomenon known as "ground rowing," the National Weather Service said.

Ninety people were injured, authorities said. Most had been released from the hospital as of Monday.

Along the two-lane country road where some of the victims died, firefighters used heavy machinery to overturn pieces of houses that were blown into a gulley. A car sat atop the remains of one house. A red-brick foundation was all that was left at another lot.

The search took its toll around Beauregard, an unincorporated area of roughly 10,000 people near the Georgia line. Church chaplain Ike Mathews walked down a road lined with broken trees and debris as he went to check on members of his congregation and emergency workers.

"Yesterday I talked to some team members who had found bodies. They're hurting. The community is torn up. They started crying talking about it," said Mathews, an associate pastor at Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church.

Many of the people living in the area are senior citizens who moved to the country after retiring from textile mills or an old magnetic-tape manufacturing plant that closed years ago, Mathews said.

"They start with a mobile home and hope they can build a house someday. They invest in their homes, and they have a sense of legacy. It's something to leave their kids and grandkids," he said.

It was the deadliest tornado to hit the U.S. since May 2013, when an EF5 twister killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma.

Government teams surveying storm damage confirmed Tuesday that at least 18 tornadoes struck on Sunday in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Cindy Sanford said one of her neighbors in Beauregard died in the storm, and another neighbor remained missing Tuesday.

"I pray to God that they find her," Sanford said as picked through remains of her home, which tumbled in the wind and is now scattered across neighbors' land.

Sanford said she left home with her 5-year-old grandson about five minutes before the storm struck after she got a feeling it was unsafe.

"It was God," she said. "And then I heard the siren."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 500286

Reported Deaths: 9968
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34281537
DeSoto32039402
Hinds31911626
Jackson24466379
Rankin21971390
Lee15501235
Madison14566279
Jones13825242
Forrest13438250
Lauderdale11984316
Lowndes11003188
Lamar10510135
Pearl River9494237
Lafayette8542139
Hancock7727126
Washington7418157
Oktibbeha7139131
Monroe6765176
Warren6679176
Pontotoc6655102
Neshoba6625206
Panola6511131
Marshall6460134
Bolivar6302148
Union601294
Pike5815152
Alcorn5662101
Lincoln5431134
George496579
Scott472198
Tippah468381
Prentiss466581
Leflore4654144
Itawamba4628105
Adams4584119
Tate4579109
Copiah447792
Simpson4440116
Yazoo443687
Wayne439172
Covington428694
Sunflower4235105
Marion4225107
Coahoma4154104
Leake408088
Newton381679
Grenada3703108
Stone359764
Tishomingo359492
Attala331089
Jasper329565
Winston314091
Clay307676
Chickasaw299467
Clarke292194
Calhoun278945
Holmes267887
Smith263350
Yalobusha233347
Tallahatchie226851
Walthall218763
Greene218248
Lawrence212440
Perry205256
Amite204755
Webster202646
Noxubee186440
Montgomery179456
Jefferson Davis171442
Carroll168738
Tunica159439
Benton148438
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132237
Humphreys129238
Franklin119428
Quitman106428
Wilkinson104839
Jefferson94434
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 815989

Reported Deaths: 15311
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1144621915
Mobile723961330
Madison52114694
Shelby37488348
Baldwin37167547
Tuscaloosa35013606
Montgomery34031734
Lee23177245
Calhoun22190476
Morgan20719376
Etowah19774497
Marshall18277302
Houston17333411
St. Clair15967339
Cullman15365292
Limestone15270198
Elmore15126284
Lauderdale14205294
Talladega13783276
DeKalb12598260
Walker11142369
Blount10132175
Autauga9910146
Jackson9819182
Coffee9190191
Dale8874185
Colbert8803201
Tallapoosa7063198
Escambia6755130
Covington6695184
Chilton6608161
Russell626659
Franklin5947105
Chambers5563142
Marion4966126
Dallas4902200
Clarke474083
Pike4722105
Geneva4567126
Winston4493103
Lawrence4286117
Bibb423686
Barbour356576
Marengo337489
Monroe330863
Randolph328263
Butler325396
Pickens314182
Henry311865
Hale310688
Cherokee301660
Fayette291379
Washington251151
Cleburne247160
Crenshaw244075
Clay241268
Macon231763
Lamar219547
Conecuh185753
Coosa179439
Lowndes174464
Wilcox167839
Bullock151644
Perry138440
Sumter132038
Greene126244
Choctaw87827
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 64°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 69°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 55°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 69°
More high pressure will move back into our area overnight and into our Friday. This high pressure will bring back into our area some more dry and seasonable weather for a few days.
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