A twister struck a rural Alabama community last weekend, claiming the lives of 23 people, injuring dozens and destroying numerous homes.
Among those who perished in the disaster, the youngest was 6-year-old Armando “AJ” Hernandez Jr., and the oldest 89-year-old Jimmy Lee Jones, who died with his wife of six decades, along with one of their sons.
According to AJ’s uncle, the boy took shelter in a closet with his father and older brother when the tornado hit. The strong winds tore their house apart and ripped AJ and his brother from their father’s arms. “It just demolished the house and took them.”
AJ’s older brother and father survived the ordeal.
Aside from dogs, search crews used drones that can detect the body heat signature of people in the rubble.
A day after the cyclone struck, volunteers in the unincorporated community of roughly 10,000 people in Beauregard took part in clearing paths for emergency workers.
The monster tornado, the deadliest in nearly six years, was an EF-4 with winds estimated at 170 mph. The last deadly twister to hit the U.S. was an EF-5 that killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma.
The tornado was part of a storm system that made its way through the Deep South, prompting tornado warnings in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
The twister left a path of destruction up to nine-tenths of a mile in Alabama and traveled around 70 miles through Alabama and Georgia, making it one of the longest-lived tornadoes to touch down in Alabama.
If you or someone you know are in a place where tornadoes are likely to occur, keep safe by preparing your home and knowing what to do before and after a twister strikes.