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Deadly Tornado

DISASTER STRIKES Tornado survivors search for their belongings. Their home was destroyed by the storm. TAMI CHAPPELL—AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A tornado tore through eastern Alabama on March 3, killing at least 23 people. It was the deadliest tornado to hit the United States in six years.

The tornado devastated Lee County, a rural area. It carved a path of destruction nearly a mile wide and 70 miles long.

Officials at the National Weather Service (NWS) said two tornadoes may have hit Lee County. The strongest was rated an EF-4. It had estimated top wind speeds of 170 miles per hour. The twister destroyed homes and businesses.

“It looks like someone almost just took a giant knife and scraped the ground,” Jay Jones told the Associated Press. Jones is the sheriff of Lee County.

Jonathan Clardy is a resident of Beauregard. That’s a Lee County community of about 10,000 people. The tornado tore the roof off the trailer where he lives with his family. They were huddled inside at the time.

“Everybody in Beauregard is a real close-knit family,” Clardy says. “Everybody knows everybody around here. Everybody is heartbroken.”

The Alabama tornado was part of a larger storm system. Storms also hit Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. At press time, NWS confirmed at least 34 tornadoes had struck the region.