LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - On March 3, 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.
As a sheriff’s deputy, Heather Norred is trained to respond to emergencies, but she never thought an emergency this devastating would happen so close to where she lives.
“It was just this giant cloud coming towards the house,” said Norred.
After the storm passed, Norred walked outside and heard the cries for help coming from her neighbors. She said she immediately found two people trapped.
Not long after the first storm passed, another tornado was approaching.
“Prayed and waited out the next storm. And it passed very quickly. Started praying for a doctor to show up, because we needed some help, and a doctor just came walking up to me and he said, ‘Hey, I’m a doctor, where can I help you?’” Norred said.
They worked to pull the people who were trapped out from under the debris.
“We cut the tree off of them which was also challenging because there was a propane tank that was leaking. And we got them out. We put one on a swing set ladder, a swing set ladder, and carried her out and another ladder, an aluminum ladder, and we carried the other one out, and we put them on the back of pickup trucks to get them out to the ambulances, was pretty much blocked,” Norred said.
Seeing the extent of the damage, Norred knew they needed a lot of help. She was unable to get a call through to the sheriff’s office, but she was able to get a message to fellow Deputy Brent Davis.
“She said people down the road were screaming for help,” Davis said.
Davis wasn’t prepared for what he saw once he arrived in Beauregard. Soon after arriving on the scene he remembers seeing a young man who was obviously severely injured.
“He was just tangled up in some debris,” Davis said. "I remember checking him for a pulse and he didn’t survive.”
As he continued through the devastation, he came across more victims.
“Turning around and looking and something just caught my eye and I saw some more victims down there and one of them, two of them did not survive,” Davis said. "One of them happened to survive.”
That was Kayla Grimes. Her father, his fiance, and Kayla’s best friend all died in the storm.
“I remember telling her, just close your eyes, baby," Davis said. "You don’t look. She was asking what happened and I told her you hurt your leg and there’s a bad storm that just came through, but you’re going to be okay.”
Deputies Davis and Norred worked for hours tending to the victims putting their own safety in jeopardy. They say they were just doing their job.
“Fortunately our neighbors jumped right in, and, because, when there’s a tragedy like this, recovery begins seconds after," Norred said. "And they were the first responders that day.”
Both deputies are school resource officers in the Beauregard community.