BEAUREGARD, Ala. (WSFA) On March 3rd, a powerful tornado touched down in Lee County. The EF-4 twister tore a path at least 26 miles long in Alabama. It’s referred to as the worst natural disaster in the history of Lee County
"I wasn't quite prepared for the magnitude of the destruction," said Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones.
Jones calls the day of the tornadoes as the hardest day of his career.
“I’d say this was the toughest set of circumstances I’ve ever had to deal with in my life,” Jones said.
Jones arrived minutes after the storm passed. He first came across a man who was injured.
“All he could remember was coming up the road, up Alabama Highway 51, he was coming to his residence, and the next thing he knew he was lying on the side of the road,” Jones recalls.
Jones helped treat the man, then the calls began to come that victims had been located. The death toll rose throughout the night. In all, 23 people lost their lives.
“It hurt my heart. That was an extremely difficult time. I just wanted so bad for that number to stop increasing and knowing that we were helpless to control that. That’s a terrible feeling,” added Jones.
Despite their loss, Jones says the people of Beauregard showed resiliency and selflessness. As the days and months pass, that’s what he remembers most.
“People that were directly affected by the storm, that may have lost property and may have lost loved ones, but yet still come to the aid of their neighbors, and the community pulling together as one, and so many wanting to just do anything they could to help others. Those moments will always be in my memory," Jones said.
A night of remembrance is being planned to mark the first anniversary of the storm, March 3, 2020.