UPDATE 1:34 p.m.: President Donald Trump announced Tuesday afternoon that he will be visiting Alabama on Friday following the tornado.
Further details about his visit have not been announced.
The 23 people who were killed by tornadoes in southern Lee County on Sunday have been identified by Lee County Coroner Bill Harris.
Harris released a list of the victims at a press conference on Tuesday, during which law enforcement and EMA officials said the process of searching for additional injured and unaccounted for is still ongoing.
The victims were identified Monday, and as of 10 p.m. Monday, those victims had been released to their families for funeral arrangements.
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"We had to make sure absolutely that person was who we were told it was and who we thought it was," Harris said. "We were able to that."
Harris said state assistance was called in because his office was overwhelmed.
"Our job now is to assist these families and guide them in any directions toward those final dispositions of those descendants," Harris said.
The ages of those who died in the storm range from 6 to 89. We have published the coroner's list below. One family alone lost seven people, the coroner said. They lived in two separate homes on the same road and were related by marriage.
"They've got seven funerals that they have to finance somehow," Harris said. "I've already had some calls, people willing to help, and I'll be taking those and will be directing them to the families."
Four children are now listed among the dead. The number increased by one Tuesday after officials initially reported there were three children killed in the storm.
It's possible that the death toll may rise again.
"We're not ruling that completely out," said Sheriff Jay Jones. "But we're hoping — of course, as we all are — that number stays static."
Most of the more than 50 people taken to hospitals for injuries from the storm have been released.
At least six people remain hospitalized as of Tuesday afternoon at UAB Medical Center in Birmingham, a UAB spokesperson said. Four patients remained hospitalized at East Alabama Medical Center Tuesday, their spokesperson said.
A hospital in Columbus, Georgia, has not responded to a request for information about patients who may remain hospitalized there.
Between seven and eight people are still missing, according to the Lee County Sheriff.
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said efforts to locate additional victims are more targeted now, and the number of missing is "way down" from Monday, when he said dozens were still unaccounted for.
"We have been able to narrow the searched down from a broad spectrum of the area down to specific areas of particular concern," Jones said. "These are associated with addresses of individuals that were in the most affected areas."
Jones said investigators are contacting families and making sure unaccounted for individuals are accounted for. That process is ongoing.
"Hopefully that number will continue to decrease as the day goes on," Jones said.
Heavy equipment is being used to move piles of debris to make sure all areas have been searched. Jones said hopefully officials will move from a search and rescue status into a recovery status by the end of Tuesday or early Wednesday.
Opelika City Fire Chief Bryan Prather, who is heading up some of the search and rescue efforts along with Jones, said the searches are a continuous effort from fire, EMS and other law enforcement as they sift through wreckage and piles of debris.
"They're not mainly for somebody but searching areas that have large piles of debris to make sure that we miss nobody," Prather said.
They have been using search dogs, unmanned aircraft and massive crews on the ground. The Opelika Fire Department, Auburn Fire Division and Beauregard Volunteer Fire Department have been on the ground along with several other agencies.
"We'll continue to be there as long as necessary," Prather said. "We haven't given up hope. We're still searching."
Those still looking for a loved one can contact the Lee County EMA at leecoema.com or by phone at 334-749-8161.
"We ask that you give us complete information on the missing person," Lee County EMA director Kathrine Carson said. "We're encouraging people to use that."
Volunteers and aide
A number of local organizations and churches are accepting donations from victims.
For those who would like to volunteer, a volunteer reception center will open Wednesday in Smiths Station.
The reception center will be at Smiths Station Baptist Church at 2460 Lee Road 430 and open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. C.T.
Volunteers will go through a brief training and receive safety gear before being dispatched to assist with cleanup and recovery.
The Lee County EMA said all volunteers must report to the designated area to be dispatched to areas in need. United Way will be operating the center and providing volunteers with arm bands to grant them access through checkpoints.
"I think the people here and the people who have come to help us have performed admirably," Carson said. "We're here for the citizens, and we cannot emphasize enough that we want them to communicate with us and let us know what they need and how we can help them even further than we have."
Citizens should register their needs by dialing 211. Unaffiliated volunteers will then be matched with the requests from residents.
"We do need people to continue to register there and let us know what they need," Carson said. "We can't help them if we don't know what their needs are."
Carson said Auburn University has "poured down" resources on the community.
Providence Baptist Church is offering shelter to those affected by the storm. AirBnb has also launched its Open Homes program to help victims and relief workers. The Red Cross has a number of ways to provide relief including medicine for those who may have lost their homes.
Lee County EMA has provided a map of approved distribution and drop off points, though other local organizations are also accepting donations. GoFundMe fundraising campaigns have also begun for some of the victims and their families.
Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes has warned people to be weary of out-of-state organizations asking for donations to help victims. He suggested going through known local organizations or official national organizations like the Red Cross or Samaritans Purse.
"I know everyone wants to help and this is precisely the sentiment that scam artists prey on during times like these," Hughes wrote in a statement. "Seek out local groups to support if that is what you would like to do. Be cautious of people/groups coming in from out of the area."
Tornado was a powerful EF-4
Birmingham National Weather Service chief meteorologist Chris Darden said an EF-4 tornado caused the most destruction. The tornado was on the ground for about 70 miles through Lee County and well into Georgia.
It had 170 MPH winds and was nearly a mile wide. Beauregard had less than 10 minutes of warning to get out of the way of the fast-approaching storm. The storm flipped cars, ripped homes from their foundations and split trees in half.
It was the deadliest tornado in the United States since 2013, and it was the first EF-4 tornado in Alabama since 2011, Darden said.
Another tornado, which followed a similar track as the first tornado, has been upgraded to an EF-2 from an initial classification of EF-1 Monday. It was on the ground for 29 miles. It hit the ground on Macon County and stayed on the ground into Lee County.
Victims identified, according to Coroner Bill Harris:
- Armondo "AJ" Hernandez — 6
- Charlotte Ann Miller — 59
- David Dean — 53
- Emmanuel Jones — 53
- Eric Jamal Stenson — 38
- Felicia Woodall — 22
- Florel Tate Stenson — 63
- Henry Lewis Stenson — 65
- Irma Gomez-Moran — 41
- James Henry Tate — 86
- Jimmy Lee Jones — 89
- Jonathan Marquez Brown — 9
- Maggie Delight Robinson — 57
- Mamie Roberts Koon — 68
- Marshall Lynn Grimes — 59
- Mary Louise Jones — 83
- Mykala Waldon — 8
- Raymond Robinson Jr. — 63
- Ryan Pence — 22
- Sheila Creech — 59
- Taylor Thornton — 10
- Tresia Robinson — 62
- Vicki Braswell — 69
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