Ivey tours tornado damage in Wetumpka — ‘We’ve all come together and that means a lot’
WETUMPKA — It took only seven days for Gov. Kay Ivey to have to confront the aftermath of the first natural disaster of her new term.
On Monday, Ivey and other local officials visited a neighborhood on the north bank of the Coosa River in tornado-ravaged Wetumpka.
According to reports, a preliminary survey from the National Weather Service indicated an EF-2 tornado hit Wetumpka on Saturday afternoon with wind speeds between 120 and 130 mph.
Ivey spoke to reporters after her tour, which featured severe damage to nearly three dozen homes.
“This a day we’ve all come to see and give thanks to God Almighty for no loss of life,” Ivey said. “We’ve lost a lot of property – 35-plus homes either demolished or badly damaged. There’s a lot of discomfort in the area. One of the refreshing things that I find so rewarding is so many people in this area have volunteered to help put Wetumpka back in order. That’s special.”
“Not many areas in the United States can boast of neighbor helping neighbor like y’all have done,” Ivey continued. “I’m grateful for your leadership here – the mayor, the chairman of the county commission, House and Senate members, EMA state director and local folks. We’ve all come together and that means a lot.”
“We appreciate Congresswoman Martha Roby for being here,” she added. “Y’all have got a lot to be thankful for.”
Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis, who accompanied Ivey on her tour offered reports on assessment of damaged structures, which included two historic churches.
— Mickey Welsh (@mickeywelsh) January 20, 2019
“We lost numerous homes, historical homes,” Willis said. “We’ve lost pretty much two historical churches. One of our churches was 163 years old. It’s been captured on canvas probably more than any other object, any other building, any other scene in our county. When they would paint the bridge, they always captured the church in the background.”
On this #MLKDay, it’s great seeing hundreds of volunteers & first responders working together, while enduring the cold, to remove debris & get things back in working condition in @CityofWetumpka. @ElmoreCoEMA @AlabamaEMA @ServeAlabama pic.twitter.com/081f0RoNuS
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) January 21, 2019
“It’s very difficult when you’re involved in governmental agencies and you’ve spend those years working to build, and then all of a sudden you see it’s gone,” he continued. “But guess what? It gives us an opportunity now. It gives us an opportunity to do something else. We’ll build it back. It’s going to be built back, and it will probably be built back better than it ever was before. We’re excited about that challenge.”
Willis said he hoped that historic church would be put back with its original theme. He also thanked local and state EMA and nearby first responders including those from Montgomery, Prattville and Millbrook.