WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA) - First responders, community members and volunteers are continuing to pick up the pieces left behind in Wetumpka after Saturday’s tornado.
A preliminary survey from the National Weather Service indicates an EF-2 tornado hit Wetumpka Saturday afternoon, destroying or damaging at least 35 homes in Elmore County and a number of churches and businesses. John Deblock with NWS said the tornado had wind speeds between 120 and 130 mph.
A massive cleanup is underway in the city’s historic downtown. Crews with heavy equipment were working to clear debris Monday. Utility crews were also working to repair damaged lines to restore service.
Wetumpka’s roadways, including the Bibb Graves Bridge, have reopened as of 7 p.m. Monday. During the busiest travel times, an officer will be posted at intersections in the west district of Wetumpka and the bridge to assist motorists.
City leaders estimate more than 1,500 people have volunteered to lend a hand since the storm hit. Military and church groups were among the volunteers helping victims clean and salvage items from damaged buildings Sunday and Monday.
According to HandsOn River Region, the volunteer reception center at Elmore County DHR is on a temporary hold for volunteers. The organization plans to close the volunteer recruitment center until the weekend so the current volunteers and emergency personnel can safely conduct cleanup activities. Once they are able to accept more volunteers to enter into the affected area, the public will be notified.
All calls about storm damage and volunteer information should be directed to 211. All emergency calls are to be directed to 911.
Those who are volunteering or those who are in need of food, can go to the Family Life Center at The First Methodist Church at 306 W. Tuskeena Street. The Facebook post says there will be food and drinks all day.
Elmore County EMA Director Keith Barnett took to Facebook to thank first responders and the Central Alabama community.
Barnett also added some pictures showing damage to a SUV. In the pictures you can see a splintered board which went straight through the body of the vehicle and into a car seat. Barnett says if a child had been in the seat, they would have been struck in the head.
“Once again, thanks to everyone for all the prayers, calls and support.” Barnett said in the post. “We have a long way to go. But we can rebuild homes, churches and buildings. The fact that nobody was killed is a miracle.”