WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA) - It’s been two days since an EF-2 tornado moved through Wetumpka, Alabama, destroying or damaging much in its path.
Officials with the National Weather service estimate the tornado had wind speeds between 120 and 130 miles per hour, and damaged or destroyed approximately 35 buildings, including the Wetumpka Police Department.
Ed Reeves, Wetumpka’s assistant police chief, said the department is “destroyed.”
“The back end of the building, it took the majority of the roof off, and when it did, it broke the sprinkler system, so it flooded the building," Reeves said. "It (the tornado) ruined all of our computer equipment, a lot of our electronics, body cameras, tasers, everything of that nature. The whole interior of the police department is really destroyed.”
Along with the building and much of the department’s electronic devices, the tornado also damaged or destroyed five of the department’s police vehicles.
“We were finally able today to cut the trees off of them and get to them and assess the damage, and all five vehicles are totaled," Reeves said.
Before the storm, the department had 30 vehicles for its 30 officers, but now, there aren’t enough vehicles for all of the officers.
“I spoke with (Elmore County) Sheriff (Bill) Franklin this morning, and he’s been gracious enough to give us some spare vehicles of his that we can use," Franklin said. "We’ll have to swap cars out, use them continuously and do whatever we have to do. We’ll get by.”
For now, the department will be operating out of city hall.
“We’re going to operate out of the administrative building of city hall, which is next to the Civic Center. The mayor gave us the top floor of the administrative building, so we’ll be able to use some offices and utilize that as our temporary headquarters," Reeves said.
Reeves said it’s “undetermined" when they will rebuild the police department, and that they will be operating out of city hall for the foreseeable future.
"We’re going to have to have meetings. We haven’t had time with everything going on, and we haven’t had time to sit down and even really think about it. Montgomery was gracious enough to send us their command post for us to operate out of, so right now, we’re going to operate out of it until we actually have time to catch our breath and sit down and determine long term what we should do,” Reeves said.
As far as how much it will cost to repair and replace the damaged equipment and rebuild the building, Reeves said he “would be scared to guess.”
Reeves said that while there is still much to be done, his main focus is on the community.
“Right now, the next step is to finish getting the streets cleared and finish getting all the power back on," Reeves said. "We hope by tomorrow evening to have that completed and that we will be able to open all the streets back up and kind of get back to normal.”