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Fatal tornado leaves 23 dead in Alabama

by Bridgette Babb - copy editor
Thu, Mar 14th 2019 03:00 pm
Destruction This past Sunday, March 3, a category 4 tornado destroyed parts of Alabama. Homes were in shatters (left) and 23 people were left dead. Cars and railroads were destroyed as the tornado struck miles of the Alabama terrain.
Destruction This past Sunday, March 3, a category 4 tornado destroyed parts of Alabama. Homes were in shatters (left) and 23 people were left dead. Cars and railroads were destroyed as the tornado struck miles of the Alabama terrain.

A deadly tornado claimed the lives of 23 people on Sunday, March 3 in Alabama. The state of Alabama has a long, sad history with tornadoes. These powerful windstorms tend to occur around the spring and summer months.

The brutal EF-4 tornado leveled neighborhoods in rural parts of southeast Alabama. CNN reported that this has been the worst tornado in over six years, with many of the victims being families. Birmingham resident Krystal Stenson-Garrett learned she lost both parents, her uncle and only brother during an array of calls from a cousin.

The level of debris left from the twister is extensive. According to CNN, large stretches of land were completely leveled. It is difficult to even see where separate houses stood, due to everything being turned into a gigantic pile of wreckage.

Brick homes with no roofs, tall trees turned to stumps and steel beams twisted out of place are just a few of the things surviving residents saw when walking through their former neighborhood.

“It's all been put in a blender and it’s just been blown for miles all over creation,” Adam Littleton, a bus driver helping the search team said.

Baby shoes, broken plates, medicine bottles and a multitude of photos thrown about showed the numerous lives this storm affected.

“You know the area, and you get to a point where you don't know the area anymore,” Mike Pooler, a drone systems instructor working with the rescue team said. “The houses on the hill are now in a pile.”

“The track of the ‘monster tornado’ appeared to have been at least 24 miles long, and that the storm had been nearly a mile wide,” said Chris Darden, Birmingham’s head meteorologist.

New York Times reported that among the deceased were three children: a 6-year-old, a 9-year-old who passed at the hospital and 10-year-old Taylor Thornton. Taylor had been out camping with a friend and her guardian for a few days when the storm hit.

When Ms. Thornton could not reach her daughter, fear took over and Mr. Thornton went looking. The house their daughter was staying in was demolished and her body was found by Mr. Thornton. “The few times I’ve talked to him, all he’s told me was that she looked like she was sleeping,” Ms. Thornton told the New York Times.

According to The Guardian, several people are still unaccounted for. Both dogs and drones are being utilized in searching, but the outlook is grim. During a news conference, Lee County Coroner Bill Harris said he was “not going to be surprised” if more deceased were found.

The response of help for these victims has been inspiring. Survivors who still have homes have opened up their doors for homeless people to stay. Resident James Taunton viewed the situation as something that could have been a lot worse for his family, but God spared them.

“We didn't really lose anything.” Taunton said. “Literally, two miles from my house they have no home. I feel guilty... How am I allowed to have my family intact and they're not?”

This disaster caught the attention of President Donald Trump, who offered words of comfort as he took in the intense scenes and autographed bibles during a visit to the area.

“We saw things you wouldn’t believe,” Trump said as he stood amid the wreckage and rubble.

The president met with the families of all the victims, as well as emergency workers and volunteers.

“We couldn’t get here fast enough,” Trump said at the Providence Baptist church. “I wanted to come the day it happened, but I spoke with the governor, and she said, ‘Just give us a little more time. We need a little more time.’”

The rebuilding process will start immediately, as soon as all the debris is cleared. For now, those without homes have been provided shelter.

This situation is disheartening. Losing multiple family members at once and not being able to help save them is heart wrenching. These Alabama towns need to find an efficient way to build homes so there is less damage, considering these tornadoes will definitely be reoccurring.