Mobile, Ala., Mar 4, 2019 / 03:47 pm (CNA).- Various storms spawned deadly tornadoes on Sunday, killing at least 23 people in central Alabama and causing more destruction through Georgia and Florida.
“Priests were present at the hospital yesterday to minister to the injured and their families,” Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile said in a March 4 statement to CNA.
“I am asking for prayers for all who lost their lives in the catastrophic tornadoes which occurred yesterday in the Archdiocese of Mobile and for those who have suffered from the devastating damage to homes and businesses,” he said.
Lee County, Ala. suffered all the reported fatalities, the New York Times said. More than ten people were unaccounted for, and the death toll is expected to rise.
“I would describe the damage that we have seen in the area as catastrophic,” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said at a Monday press conference. “Complete residences are gone.”
Between three and five tornadoes hit Alabama. At its worst the main storm produced a tornado measuring as high as an EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, with winds measuring perhaps 170 mph. Its path was at least 24 miles long.
“Almost a mile wide,” Meteorologist Chris Darden estimated, according to the website Al.com. “A monster tornado as it moved across the area.”
Catholic Social Services has been in contact with local pastors and is “ready to help with the recovery efforts,” said Archbishop Rodi.
The Alabama tornadoes struck just miles from the town of Auburn. Local Catholics there reacted.
“Our continued thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the disastrous storms that took place yesterday,” St. Michael Parish in Auburn said on its Facebook page March 4.
The parish is circulating information about relief services and donations. It is collecting gift cards to give to agencies to distribute to families in need.
A tornado that touched down near Cairo, Ga., damaged dozens of homes and businesses.
“We have a lot of trees down, debris and power lines,” Cairo mayor Booker T. Gainor told The Tallahassee Democrat. “We have trees completely through houses. You would think a hurricane came after this, the way it looks.”
In 2011, storms spawned over 60 tornadoes that killed over 230 people in Alabama. The disasters prompted storm shelter upgrades and increased attention to the threat of bad weather, the New York Times reports.
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