The Latest: Family hunts for memories of young storm victim

The family of a 6-year-old boy killed by a tornado in Alabama is picking through debris to recover his toys, photographs and other keepsakes to help them remember the child

1 p.m.

The family of a 6-year-old boy killed by a tornado in Alabama is picking through debris to recover his toys, photographs and other keepsakes to help them remember the child.

Officials say AJ Hernandez was the youngest of 23 people killed when a powerful tornado struck rural Lee County. AJ and his brother took shelter in a closet with their father Sunday. The tornado demolished their home and swept both boys from their father's arms. AJ didn't survive.

The boy's grandfather, Bobby Kidd, sifted through wreckage Thursday. Kidd says he wants AJ's grieving parents to have the items "for the memory" of the son they lost.


11:15 a.m.

Alabama's Democratic U.S. senator is thanking President Donald Trump for his response to the deadly tornado that killed 23 people in the state.

Sen. Doug Jones noted during a news conference Thursday in Beauregard that Trump has declared an emergency in Alabama and plans to visit the devastated area Friday. The senator said: "I want to thank him in advance for coming to Alabama and for this emergency declaration."

Officials in rural Lee County said volunteers are pouring in to help clear debris from roads as survivors who lost homes search for any belongings they can salvage. Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said authorities are on the lookout for looters, but few have been reported.

Funerals were scheduled to begin Thursday. Coroner Bill Harris says he's confident donations will pay for them.


10:45 a.m.

As Alabama tornado survivors continue clearing pieces of their shattered homes, another threat of tornadoes looms for them and others in a large part of the South.

The national Storm Prediction Center is closely tracking a system expected to bring more storms both days this weekend, with the strongest of those expected Saturday.

Bill Bunting, chief of forecast operations at the center, says the areas most at risk Saturday include Arkansas, most of Mississippi, and central and northern Alabama. Northern Louisiana, southern Missouri and western and central parts of Kentucky and Tennessee are also under the threat of severe storms.

Bunting says this weekend's storms will be fast-moving, racing to the northeast at 50 to 60 mph (80 to 97 kph). He said that means people need to be take action immediately when warnings are issued.

A tornado last Sunday in rural Alabama killed 23 people.


9:35 a.m.

Funerals and memorial services are beginning for the nearly two dozen people who died when a tornado slammed into an eastern Alabama community.

A service is planned for Thursday afternoon for 22-year-old Ryan Pence, who was killed with girlfriend Felicia Woodall in the Beauregard community. The two were engaged to be married.

A relative of Woodall posted on Facebook that family members walked through the woods looking for the couple after the tornado struck.

An announcement by Chapman Funeral Home says Pence's service will be held in the city of Eufaula, located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of the worst damage from Sunday's twister.

The Rev. Billy McClendon, who will officiate at Pence's memorial service, says he worked with Pence at the Eufaula Parks and Recreation Department.


9:15 a.m.

The number of tornadoes confirmed to have touched down in a deadly weekend outbreak across the Southeast has risen to at least 36.

Survey teams for the National Weather Service found evidence of the twisters in Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.

The most powerful was an E4 tornado blamed for killing 23 people Sunday in rural Lee County, Alabama. Its destructive winds reached 170 mph (274 kph) as it carved a path of destruction nearly a mile wide. The tornado trekked nearly 70 miles (113 kilometers) from western Alabama into Georgia after crossing the Chattahoochee River at the state line.

All of the tornado deaths were in Alabama, though several people in Georgia were injured.