LEE COUNTY, Ala. — Across the Georgia border into east Alabama, entire neighborhoods are unrecognizable after Sunday’s EF-4 tornado hit on Sunday. In all, 23 people - including several children - were killed.
Curvin Robinson lost seven members of his family that day – and it all happened in less than a minute.
“It sounded like a train coming. Thirty to 45 seconds and it was all over,” Robinson told 11Alive's Elwyn Lopez Monday. “I’m in shock still, you know … I’m blessed to be here.”
He said that he received a message on his phone, warning people to take shelter.
“We’re in the backyard in the shed watching TV and I took behind a refrigerator and just balled up,” Robinson recalled. “You think it’s going to blow over and it’s not going to be this bad ever. We tried to ride it out as normal but it was a bad one …. I’ve been here all my life. It’s indescribable. Nothing like this before.”
Robinson said his mobile home shifted off its foundation after the storm.
“I’m numb, completely numb, for that moment, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” Robinson said. “Had to ride through it.”
The clean-up phase began Tuesday as heavy equipment was brought in to clear debris and help searchers find any remaining victims. First responders said at least two people are still unaccounted for - that is down from an earlier number that had seven people still missing.
“We’re actively searching areas today, we do have firefighters on the ground searching,” said Opelika Fire Chief Byron Prather.
Meanwhile, officials have been able to identify the 23 victims who have been recovered. The coroner said that all of the bodies have been released to the victims' families and their funeral homes of choice.
Based on calls made to hotels in the area, officials estimate that at least 100 people are now homeless.