‘Losing a young soul to a storm like this is heartbreaking’: Gov. Ivey visits Fultondale to see tornado damage

Gov. Ivey discusses and tours tornado damage in Fultondale

FULTONDALE, Ala. (WBRC) - Gov. Kay Ivey, state and Jefferson County leaders visited Fultondale a day after an EF-3 tornado destroyed homes, buildings, a school and killed a young boy.

Governor Ivey started the news conference Wednesday by saying, “The people of Alabama are praying for y’all this morning and we are here as a sign of our commitment to your recovery.”

The governor also mentioned the tragic loss of 14-year-old Elliott Hernandez, a freshman at Fultondale High School.

Elliott and his father were in the basement when the tornado hit. Elliott’s father remains in the hospital.

At least 30 people were injured in the tornado, right now first responders said everyone is accounted for.

Governor Ivey said she flew over the damage in a helicopter Wednesday morning, and she said she saw a lot of damage and she knows it’s going to take a lot to recover. She assured everyone in the community that state agencies are here to make sure people get the help they need and the recovery comes sooner rather than later.

Ivey flew over Fultondale High School, which officials said is beyond repair. She said state leaders are working with Jefferson County leaders on how to help displaced students and where and how they will attend school. 650 students are affected.

The governor said Alabama is no stranger to the nightmares Mother Nature is capable of handing out, and the areas that need it will have the resources they need.

Crews are working around the clock to clear debris, roads and to get the power back on.

Governor Ivey said she is in touch with President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris.

Ivey said, “President Biden called me to check in on Alabama following Monday’s severe weather. I shared with him what we saw today, both from the air and on the ground. While the recovery will be tough, these communities are united. This is what makes Alabama so special.”

President Biden sent the following statement concerning the devastation:

“Today, I called Governor Ivey to express my condolences to her state after Monday night’s tornado that tore through Fultondale, claiming the life of one young Alabamian and injuring dozens more, and to assess the damage inflicted by the tornado. I assured the Governor that my Administration is ready to offer any federal emergency assistance Alabama needs in its recovery, and Jill and I continue to keep in our prayers the families and communities in Jefferson County and across the state facing devastation.”

Fultondale Mayor Larry Holcomb reflected on the damage and hurt his city is going through and the response from people who want to help.

Holcomb said when he ran for mayor he was asked several times about his political affiliation. He said he has gotten calls from people across America this week offering help and no one has asked what his political party is or who they would be helping. Holcomb said the country may seem divided but when something like this happens we are not divided. When something likes this happens we come together.

Center Point Mayor Bobby Scott said he wanted to extend his and the city’s thanks to first responders and outside agencies who offered help and volunteers immediately after the storm. Scott said Center Point will help Fultondale and they are all a community, not just next door neighbors.

Scott said, “We stand behind everyone in need.”

EMA Director Jim Coker thanked responders and crews and said he is so grateful for everyone’s attitude to help. Coker said when he called a local fire station to ask for help and use their equipment, the answer was “We’re on it.” Coker said, “Alabama we can never let our guard down, but we can always be on it.”

When disaster occurs our office has the resources available to ensure your safety. Here is aerial footage from our Star 1 Helicopter from the storm damage.

Posted by Jefferson County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The state ema director said crews are doing damage assessments across the area and right now they don’t know the full extent of the damage or the totality. Brian Hastings said the priority is feeding, housing and short term assistance to get people hurt in the storm to a better tomorrow.

If you are able to help, this is the link to the Governor’s Relief Fund.

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