The deadliest U.S. tornado since 2013 ripped through parts of Alabama and Georgia this week, killing at least 23 and causing significant damage. News reports said the tornado hit an airport and industrial park, swept mobile homes off their bases, and flattened trees and homes.
“Complete apartments are gone and damaged,” Vinton Copeland, a pastor at Powell Baptist Church in Talbotton, Georgia, told CNN. “We have a shelter at our county high school for those affected. It’s devastating and houses are gone and there are power lines decimated. Tough time.”
At least 15 structures were destroyed in Talbotton, the county’s emergency management team said.
In Alabama, Eufaula Mayor Jack Tibbs told CNN the local airport and an industrial park “were hit pretty hard” and a fire station was destroyed.
Eufaula is about 50 miles southeast of Lee County, where all those killed by the tornado died. “The devastation is incredible,” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said.
Rita Smith, spokeswoman for the Lee County Emergency Management Agency, said numerous homes were destroyed or damaged in Beauregard, which is in Alabama’s Lee County, USA Today reported. In addition, a massive cell tower collapsed.
Previous deadly tornadoes include the Moore tornado, which devastated Moore, Oklahoma, in 2013, killing over 20 people. The tornado caused an estimated $1.5 billion to $2 billion in damage, about a quarter the size of Oklahoma’s state budget at the time.
A month after the 2011 tornado, the Tuscaloosa News reported that the 70 miles of destruction left by the tornado could result in more than $2 billion in insured property losses.