First responders scoured debris Monday searching for missing people after several tornadoes devastated communities in the Southeast.
At least 22 people died in one Alabama county, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said. Officials expect the numbers to rise as they assess damage and begin recovery. Lee County Coroner Bill Harris told The Associated Press that he had to call in help from the state because there were more bodies than his office could handle.
The tornado wrecked an area several miles long and a fourth-of-a-mile wide in the county about 60 miles east of Montgomery, Jones told WRBL-TV. Numerous injuries were reported with more than 40 patients at the East Alabama Medical Center by Sunday evening, the hospital said.
In Georgia’s Talbot County, emergency officials initially reported six to eight minor injuries. No seriously injured or dead were found in damaged mobile homes or buildings Sunday night, emergency management spokesperson Ann Erenheim said.
More than 35,000 customers in Alabama and Georgia lost power Sunday following the tornadoes, strong winds and severe thunderstorms, AccuWeather said. Crews are expected to continue restoring electricity as they survey damage to other utilities.
No tornadoes are expected Monday or through the rest of the week, the Storm Prediction Center said. Conditions will be drier Monday, AccuWeather meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said, with highs in the lower to middle 50s.
“Colder air will sweep into the Southeast behind the severe weather with temperatures dropping into the 30s southward to central Georgia and across most of Alabama by Monday morning,” Pydynowski said. “Those without power who rely on electric heat need to find ways to say warm.”
Sunday marked the nation’s deadliest day for tornadoes in over two years. The last day so many people died in the U.S. due to tornadoes was Jan. 22, 2017, when 16 people were killed in south Georgia. It was also the USA’s deadliest March day for tornadoes since March 2, 2012, when 40 died.
Contributing: The Associated Press