Trump makes perfunctory trip to survey Alabama tornado recovery efforts
9 March 2019
President Donald Trump and the first lady made a brief two-and-a-half hour tour of Lee County, Alabama on Friday, before flying to his Mar-a-Lago, Florida, residence for the weekend.
A powerful storm system generated 38 tornadoes last Sunday across the Southeast, with several causing injury and destruction in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in Grady, Harris and Talbot counties, where almost two dozen homes were destroyed and up to 40 damaged.
Lee County in the east-central part of Alabama, near Columbus, Georgia, suffered at least two tornadoes. One of these tornadoes was a category EF-4, meaning it had winds up to 170 miles per hour, stretching a full mile wide. This unusually powerful tornado—and the deadliest in the US since 2013—demolished almost everything in a square mile near the community of Beauregard. The EF-4 tornado traveled another 15 miles west and north into the town of Smiths Station, where it diminished into an EF-1 as it crossed the Chatahoochee River into Georgia.
The storm killed 23 Lee County residents. One family lost seven, another ten members. Others remain in local and regional hospitals.
Makitha Griffin told CNN that she lost five loved ones to the tornadoes—her aunts, Florel Tate Stenson, 63, and Tresia Robinson, 62; her uncles, Henry Lewis Stenson, 65, and Raymond Robinson Jr., 63; and her cousin, 38-year-old Eric Jamal Stenson. A cousin who was at the home of those killed during the storm sustained injuries and remains in the hospital.
Trump’s visit to Lee County appears to have consisted largely of a helicopter overflight and briefings with local officials. Prior to arrival, the…