Alabama tornado: What we know so far
- At least 23 people were killed in Lee County, Alabama, by the deadliest tornado since the one that hit Moore, Oklahoma, in 2013.
- Officials said the death toll was likely to rise.
- The National Weather Service said the tornado was an EF-4 with an estimated wind speed of 170 mph.
- The tornado was nearly a mile wide in Lee County.
- People had 20 minutes' warning to find shelter before the massive tornado devastated the area.
- Officials say there were 43 preliminary reports of tornadoes across Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
- Thousands of people were left without power across Alabama and Georgia, a number that has decreased since Sunday.
Crews were carrying out an extensive search effort Monday after a devastatingswept across several states in the Deep South and caused a disaster near Auburn, Alabama. The twister that destroyed homes, businesses and lives was one of a dozen reported in Alabama Sunday.
"Houses completely destroyed, homes just basically just slabs left where once stood a home," Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said. "The contents of one residence we know for a fact was located over 1,000 yards away."
Many of the storm victims lived in Beauregard, Alabama, including 6-year-old A.J. Hernandez Jr. On social media, his aunt called him "a precious little man." Taylor Thornton, 10, was visiting a friend when the tornado hit.
But there were also stories of survival. Cameras caught an emotional moment as a grandmother was reunited with her granddaughter.
Resident describes how Alabama neighborhood was tornado's bulls eye
Shannon Kelly's neighborhood was the killer tornado's bulls eye. It's now unrecognizable. No one was home when the tornado struck, as CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports from Alabama.
For the first time since the tornado struck, Kelly was about to see what remained of her home for the last 20 years.
"I was shaking," she told CBS News. "I'm still shaking."
Shaken by what she saw along with her son Alex and her best friend Tonya Banks.
"I seen a frame ... I seen a piece of a wall, but like I did not see a trailer," she recalled. "Nobody could tell me where my trailer went."
"I didn't have insurance," Kelly told Strassmann. "I don't have a clue where to start at ... I don't even know," she cried. "All you can do is go up from here, but where do you start at."
In this neighborhood, people have always looked after one another. But like Kelly, most of them now have nothing.
At least 23 people were killed within 1 square mile of Kelly's neighborhood.
She has no idea how many of them were her neighbors and friends.
Jeff Glor anchoring "CBS Evening News" from Alabama
"CBS Evening News" anchor Jeff Glor will broadcast from Lee County on Monday night. Near Beauregard, Glor reports one example of the tornadoes' power was a wide area covered with the remnants of trees.
At least 3 children killed during tornadoes
At least three children were killed during Sunday's tornadoes. Lee County Coroner Bill Harris told reporters during an afternoon press conference Monday the children were 6, 9 and 10 years old.
Harris didn't provide additional details. On Facebook, a college preparatory school in Auburn, Alabama, said one of its students, Taylor Thornton, died because of the severe weather.
Lee-Scott Academy said Taylor was a fourth grader at the school for students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Family friend Kaitlyn Willing told CBS News Taylor was visiting a friend's house when the tornado hit.
"Taylor was the kindest, sweetest little girl I have ever encountered," said Willing, who set up a GoFundMe page for Taylor's family. "She truly lit up the room with her joyful life. She impacted every person she came in contact with her contagious smile."
Smoke detector alarms only sign of life in one area
The sound of alarms from smoke detectors filled the air in an area along County Road 38 in Beauregard, Alabama, Monday morning. CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports the sound was the only sign of life in the area after a tornado destroyed houses on both sides of the road.
"It looks almost as if someone took a giant knife and just scraped the ground," Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones told reporters Monday morning.
Trump to FEMA: Give Alabama "A Plus treatment"
President Trump said on Twitter that he told the Federal Emergency Management Agency to give Alabama "A Plus treatment" in the wake of Sunday's tornadoes. Mr. Trump said Gov. Kay Ivey has been working closely with the agency.
Workers ride out destructive storm
In Smiths Station, Alabama, the owner of a popular bar watched as the Buck Wild Saloon was gutted to the studs. David McBride was sitting in his truck just feet away, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.
"I seen the trash swirling in the air across the hill over there, and I said, 'Oh, no, this ain't good,'" McBride told CBS affiliate WRBL-TV.
Just across the street, Charlie Patel was inside as his gas station was torn to pieces. "I'm on the counter, and 10 seconds the tornado come, and everything is gone, everything destroyed," Patel said.
"Gone in the blink of an eye"
Alabama wasn't the only state to see some serious storms. There were more than a dozen reports of tornadoes in Georgia, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.
In Talbotton, Georgia, homes were left in piles of wood and cars were tossed. Folks in nearby Ellerslie said everything was gone before they even knew what happened.
"Everything that's been built for 19 years, gone in the blink of an eye," Brittny Gordy told CBS affiliate WRBL-TV.
Death toll surpasses number of 2018 tornado deaths
The death toll in Lee County, Alabama, is more than twice the number of people killed by tornadoes last year, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports. In 2018, tornadoes killed 10 people across the U.S.