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President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, visited Beauregard, Alabama Friday to survey the damage left after a powerful tornado roared through the town last Sunday. While there, they visited a row of 23 crosses, one for each person killed. (March 8)
AP

BEAUREGARD, Ala. – President Donald Trump toured tornado-ravaged Alabama on Friday nearly a week after storms ripped through a small town there, killing 23 people.

The president touched down Friday in Lee County near where a massive tornado spun winds as high as 170 mph on Sunday. Trump had signed a major disaster declaration for the county earlier this week, freeing federal assistance to the region. 

“The people of Alabama, they got hit very hard by the tornadoes,” Trump said Friday.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump viewed the damage caused by the storm as they flew aboard Marine One. The president was expected to meet victims in Opelika, Alabama, and receive a briefing from the Lee County Emergency Management Agency.

As his motorcade wound through the county, Trump passed through entire neighborhoods that were destroyed, passing by empty lots with broken pieces of metal, wood and what appeared to be scattered clothing. 

“I saw this. And it’s hard to believe,” Trump said. “You saw things that you wouldn’t believe.”

Trump visited with the family of Sheila Creech and Marshall Lynn Grimes, who were killed in the storm. Trump hugged their survivors, and one member of the family showed him Grimes’s motorcycle vest and Bible.

Earlier, Conner Moulton, 7, carefully crafted each marker stroke as he signed a short message and on a banner thanking the president for coming to Beauregard. 

“I wrote the ‘Beauregard Strong’ and thank you for your help,” the second-grader said. “Then I put my first name and my last name. He’s helping the people who got affected and lost their homes in the tornado.”

Lana Ledbetter, a Beauregard resident who did not have any home damage but knew several people who did, came to the high school to put her mark upon the banner. 

“It’s just amazing that he’s showing his support for our little tiny community. We’re just very thankful for the funding and just for him taking his time to come and show that support for us.” 

Trump was accompanied on his Air Force One flight to Georgia by members of the state’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Richard Shelby and Rep. Mike Rogers, both Republicans.

Trump has made several trips to visit with the victims of natural disasters in recent months, including to California after last year’s wildfires and to the Carolinas following Hurricane Florence.

Trump tweeted about the storms on Monday, vowing that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would provide “A plus treatment” to the state.

Contributing: The Montgomery Advertiser

More: As Trump visits tornado victims in Alabama, is he playing politics with disaster relief?

More: Alabama tornado victims revealed; area braces for weekend storms – and possible severe weather

More: 6-year-old boy is youngest victim of Alabama tornado that left 23 dead

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