[Photo credit: Hal Yeagar, Governor’s Office]
By MARTHA ROBY, U.S. Representative, Alabama’s 2nd District
On the afternoon of Saturday, January 19, a powerful tornado hit the City of Wetumpka in Elmore County, ripping through the beautiful downtown area and inflicting heartbreaking and significant damage. By the grace of God, no lives were lost, and only minor injuries have been reported. Still, the destruction is extreme, and the road to recovery is long.
The Monday following the tornado, I joined Governor Kay Ivey and other local officials to spend time on the ground with those impacted. I had the opportunity to see the devastation firsthand, and it was heartbreaking, to say the least. The beautiful, historic First Presbyterian Church was destroyed, and First Baptist Church of Wetumpka sustained terrible damage. The Wetumpka Police Station, senior citizens center, and recreation center were also lost in the tornado. More than 35 homes and dozens of businesses were damaged or destroyed. Wetumpka and its residents are in the midst of determining the extent of damages and planning for what needs to be rebuilt, and we must do our very best to help however possible.
I am deeply grateful to the local leaders and first responders who immediately jumped to action to begin securing the area and putting the pieces back together for the people who have lost so much. During this very challenging time, it has also been encouraging to see the community come together and begin the rebuilding process like a family. Mere hours after the storm, the Elmore County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) heard from more than 1,000 individuals who signed up to volunteer their time and resources to the clean-up efforts.
If you are local and personally interested in helping out with clean-up in downtown Wetumpka or in Elmore County, please contact the Elmore County EMA by calling (334) 567-6451. The Elmore County Commission and City of Wetumpka are tremendously appreciative of volunteers who are willing to assist, but they ask that volunteers please call ahead and follow instructions to ensure proper coordination in order to maximize recovery efforts and resources.
If you are a resident of Wetumpka or Elmore County and need non-emergency assistance related to the tornado, please call 211 until further notice. Any emergency calls should still be directed to 911. Call the Elmore County EMA with any damage reports.
I would like to take this opportunity to directly address the people impacted by this tornado: My office stands ready to assist in whatever ways we are able. My staff and I work for you, and we want to be a resource for you during this challenging time.
The rebuilding process won’t be easy, but if we continue to work together and help each other out whenever possible, we will get through this. In the meantime, my family and I will continue to pray for all those impacted by this devastating event.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.