Tornado victims pick up the pieces in Alabama after deadliest outbreak in 6 years

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
March 05, 2019, 10:06:27 PM EST


Lee County, Alabama, residents are sifting through debris of their destroyed homes following devastating tornadoes that ripped through the region on Sunday.

Among those residents is Carol Dean. She is mourning the loss of her 53-year-old husband David Wayne Dean who was killed as the tornado leveled their home.

"Our son found him," Dean told the Associated Press. "He was done and gone before we got to him. My life is gone. He was the reason I lived, the reason that I got up."

"He was my wedding gift," Dean said of her husband. "He was one in a million. He'd send me flowers to work just to let me know he loved me. He'd send me some of the biggest strawberries in the world. I'm not going to be the same."

At least 23 fatalities and more injuries were reported after damaging tornadoes hit Lee County, Alabama, on Sunday.

Numerous tornadoes were reported across Alabama, Georgia and Florida on Sunday afternoon amid a severe weather outbreak across the southeastern United States. The most powerful of these storms left behind significant damage.

AccuWeather's Reed Timmer is reporting from the scene this week and said that the people inside the structures shown below survived.

Before and after Beauregard, AL tornado

These before-and-after photos show a house and trailer in Beauregard, Alabama, that were completely blown off their foundations after an EF4 tornado struck on Sunday. AccuWeather's Reed Timmer said the occupants survived. (Before: Google Earth; After: AP Photo/David Goldman)

This was the deadliest tornado outbreak in the U.S. since May 2013, when a massive and devastating tornado killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma.

The death toll is more than double the total number of tornado-related fatalities across the United States in all of 2018, which was 10, and includes almost entire families and at least three children between the ages of 6 and 10, according to the AP.

A little boy named Armando Hernandez, 6, is believed to be the youngest person killed in Lee County, CNN reported. Hernandez was one of at least three children killed by the tornadoes.

Jonathan Clardy told the AP he rode out the tornado with his children in his trailer in Beauregard, Alabama. “All we could do is just hold on for life and pray,” he said to the AP. “It’s a blessing from God that me and my young’uns are alive.”

Carolyn Kaster/AP

President Donald Trump tours devastation in Beauregard, Ala., Friday, March 8, 2019, part of the area where tornados killed 23 people in Lee County, Ala. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Carolyn Kaster/AP

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump pause at a line of crosses outside Providence Baptist Church in Smiths Station, Ala., Friday, March 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Donald Trump is greeted by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Trump's arrival, Friday, March 8, 2019, in Auburn, Ala., en route to Lee County, Ala., where tornadoes killed 23 people.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Carol Dean, right, cries while embraced by Megan Anderson and her 18-month-old daughter Madilyn, as Dean sifts through the debris of the home she shared with her husband, David Wayne Dean, who died when a tornado destroyed the house in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Ashley Griggs, right, helps Joey Roush, left sift through what's left of his mother's home after it was destroyed by a tornado in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019.

(AP Photo/Julie Bennett)

Brittney Downs looks through the debris of a family member's destroyed home the day after a deadly tornado ravaged the area, in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Dax Leandro, right, and Ashley Griggs look at a family photo recovered from the debris of their friend's home destroyed by a tornado in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019.

(AP Photo/Julie Bennett)

Julie Morrison looks through the debris of her destroyed home on Lee County Road 63 in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Debris from a home litters a yard the day after a tornado blew it off its foundation, lower right, in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019.

(AP Photo/Julie Bennett)

Debris litters the property of a destroyed home on Lee County Road 63 in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019, the day after a deadly tornado ravaged the area.

(AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

Beauregard High School students and members of the community bow their heads in prayer as students lead a prayer service for the community, Monday, March 4, 2019, in Beauregard, Ala, following a deadly tornado that hit the area Sunday.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Debris litters a yard the day after a deadly tornado damaged a home in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019.

(DroneBase via AP)

This aerial photo shows damage caused by Sunday's powerful tornado in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019.

(WKRG-TV via AP)

People walk amid debris in Lee County, Ala., after a tornado struck the area Sunday, March 3, 2019.

(DroneBase via AP)

This aerial photo shows damage caused by Sunday's powerful tornado in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019.

(Twitter/justgetalong2)

Tornado damage in Peach County, Georgia.

(WKRG-TV via AP)

Emergency responders work in the scene amid debris in Lee County, Ala., after a tornado struck in the area Sunday, March 3, 2019.

(WKRG-TV via AP)

This photo shows debris in Lee County, Ala., after a tornado struck in the area Sunday, March 3, 2019.

(Twitter/Keith_Irwin)

A tornado was seen from a truck stop in Warner Robins, Georgia.

(Twitter/gmarn2001)

Tornado warned storm in Byron, Georgia.

(Photo/@NoleInBama)

A severe storm near Malvern, Alabama, on Sunday afternoon.

(Twitter/squinty0326)

Trees down on south bound side of I-185 near Columbus, Georgia.


The most violent tornado of the day hit just east of Montgomery, Alabama.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Birmingham, Alabama, issued a tornado emergency in Lee County at 2:09 p.m. CST Sunday due to a “confirmed large and destructive tornado.”

Tornado emergencies are rare and only issued when significant, widespread damage is expected due to a strong and violent tornado with a high likelihood of numerous fatalities.


A preliminary report from the NWS Birmingham said that the first tornado to strike Lee County was at least an EF4 with 170 mph winds and width of at least one-half mile. This is the first EF4 tornado to touch down in the U.S. since April 29, 2017.

According to NWS Birmingham, damage was confirmed with a second tornado in Lee County, Alabama.

tornado stats


Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey extended the state of emergency issued on Feb. 23 to statewide due to today’s severe weather and tornadoes.

A state of emergency was also issued in Georgia for Harris, Talbot and Grandy Counties following Sunday's severe weather.

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The mayor of Cairo, Georgia, Booker Gainor, said a tornado caused heavy damage just south of downtown in Cairo. There are reports of many damaged or destroyed homes and businesses.

tornado outbreak 3419


President Donald Trump issued a statement of support for the victims on Twitter Sunday night.

"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!"

President Trump also announced that he will be visiting Alabama on Friday to see the areas devastated by Sunday's tornadoes.


Dry weather is expected across the region throughout much of the week, allowing favorable conditions for families and officials working to clean up after the storms.

The next opportunity for rain will arrive at the end of the week and into the weekend as a new storm system approaches from the west.

This upcoming system will bring the risk of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes with the area at greatest risk focusing from Louisiana to Missouri.

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