The states of Alabama and Georgia were struck by tornadoes Sunday, resulting in at least 23 deaths just in Lee County, Alabama.
The county’s sheriff Jay Jones said at least 12 of those deaths occurred in an area about 5 to 6 miles south of the city of Opelika, and added that the number could “rise yet again.” He also described the destruction caused by the tornados, estimating it stretched several miles to the east from where the tornado touched down. He said it looked “as if someone had taken a blade and just scraped the ground.”
The National Weather Service said that both Alabama and Georgia were hit by more than a dozen tornadoes on Sunday afternoon, while the death toll resulting from them is the highest one in Alabama since the deadly Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado that killed more than 200 people in 2011.
CNN reports that the state of emergency issued last month statewide was extended by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who expressed condolences on Twitter to the families of 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,” the rest of the tweet read.
President Donald Trump also told the people of Alabama to “please be careful and safe” and “to the families of the victims, and to the injured. God bless you all!”
In Talbotton, Georgia, at least 15 structures were destroyed in a tornado on Sunday, including multiple homes. Leigh Ann Erenheim, the emergency management director for Talbot County, said six people suffered injuries, although not severe ones.
Crews are working in both states to assist people affected by the tornadoes.