By Carrie Brown McWhorter
The Alabama Baptist
At least 23 people are dead following tornadoes that struck the Beauregard community south of Auburn-Opelika in Lee County March 3.
In a press conference this morning (March 4), Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones described the damage as “catastrophic” and said search and rescue teams are working in the areas hit hardest by the storms.
“I have not seen this level of destruction ever,” Jones said, noting the debris field stretches for hundreds of yards and the damage area is “at least a square mile.”
“As the day goes on, we’re getting a better picture,” he said.
Jones confirmed the death toll, saying the youngest victim was a 6-year-old. He said canine teams are coming from across Alabama and Georgia this morning to help in the search for more victims and said drones and helicopters will also be used.
In addition to search and rescue, Jones said the “primary focus is assisting those who have lost their homes and loved ones.”
Jones said Providence Baptist Church (2807 Lee Road 166, Beauregard) is serving as a reunification point for families in the community and is open as a Red Cross Shelter for those affected by the storms.
In a March 3 Facebook post, Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief said disaster relief teams from Tuskegee-Lee were at work in Beauregard and would set up operations there on March 4.
“Pray for the many families affected. Assessments are being done in south Geneva County where a tornado damaged homes there today. We are seeing reports from the Eufaula area as well. Your DR teams are gearing up to be at work tomorrow and the days ahead. Please pray for all affected and all who serve.”
The National Weather Service (NWS) will begin surveying storm damage today but early estimates suggest the storm was “at least” an EF3 tornado. Jones said there might have been more than one tornado on the ground, and said the destruction area is “at least a half-mile wide and at least a mile long.”
NWS survey teams from Birmingham and Mobile will also look at two different tracks in Barbour County on Monday and areas in Butler County and Washington County, both of which were under tornado warnings on Sunday. Another team will assess storm-damaged areas in Autauga County on Tuesday, reports said.
Several roads remain closed in the area, and Jones urged those not involved in search and rescue efforts to stay out of the impact zone.
To donate to disaster relief efforts, go to sbdr.org/donate/.
The Alabama Baptist will provide updates as they are available.