This time last week, Beauregard, Alabama was a sleepy rural community at the crossroads of two major highways connecting America’s south.

People drove past Beauregard, stopping maybe for fuel at one of the half-dozen petrol station that straddle the roads that run between farms, schools and homes.

But this morning the Presidential motorcade didn’t pass by Beauregard.

The commander-in-chief played consoler-in-chief to a community that may never get back to normal.

“I saw this, and it’s hard to believe,” Donald Trump said.

“You saw things that you wouldn’t believe.”

Beauregard was ground zero for the most ferocious of 38 tornadoes that swept through America’s south-east last Sunday.

Twenty-three people were killed, including several children.

“We’ve had several families that have just lost everyone in their whole home,” Country coroner Bill Harris said.

Whole homes were ripped from foundations and suburbs left scattered with furniture, twisted metal and branches stripped from trees.

On Monday, residents sifted through what was left as volunteers and community members armed with chainsaws looked for survivors.

“It was full of emotion,” Jennifer Walsh told us as she strolled around an obliterated suburb.

“I didn’t know what to do, didn’t know which way to go, didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Jennifer Walsh had watched on as the EF4 category tornado measuring almost 800m wide at the base and bringing winds of more than 250kph swept agonisingly close to her house.

She was spared, but anyone unlucky enough to be in the storm’s path was not.

Ten-year-old Taylor Thornton had been staying at a friend’s house that was in the disaster zone.

“I don’t know how anybody made it through that,” Taylor’s father David told NBC.

David Thornton raced to the suburb and found it decimated with only a few trees standing, some of them with sheets of metal in the remaining branches and emergency responders arriving on the scene.

His daughter didn’t survive.

“She was the air in my lungs,” David Thornton said, after helping police remove his daughter’s body from the rubble.

“I got to help a little bit.”

There were also stories of survival.

We spoke to the Tatum family at their farm as they attempted to reattach sheets of tin to a shed.

Nearby, a huge trailer lay on its side, branches were being cleared and a carport on the property sat precariously, resembling a twisted pretzel.

“We’re the lucky ones,” members of the family told me.

Two of their children rode out the storm huddled in a barn.

Standing before the building, the large ditch carved by the tornado is clearly visible.

The Tatums conclude they were metres away from tragedy.

As the week went on, more people came to help, people with trucks, machinery and quad bikes.

Emergency mobile phone towers were set up and a control centre was established at the local school where the oval turned into a car park.

A clearly defined path of destruction remains, and if recent history in Alabama is a guide, it will still be visible for years.

The community must now attempt to build around that line of flattened homes and stripped trees, it began this morning with the President’s visit.

“It’s just amazing that he’s showing his support for our tiny little community,” resident Lana Ledbetter said.

“We’re just very thankful for the funding.”

The rescue efforts are now finished, and the sad tasks of recovery are complete.

The next job is the rebuild – a job that will continue for months and years to come.

© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019

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