Day after storm: Wetumpka tornado possible EF-2; Road closures, more info for residents

Day after storm: Wetumpka tornado possible EF-2; Road closures, more info for residents
A tornado caused significant damage to homes, businesses and churches in the downtown Wetumpka area Saturday afternoon. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA) - It’s the day after a tornado moved through Elmore County, inflicting significant damage on downtown Wetumpka.

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. John Deblock with NWS said the tornado had wind speeds between 120 and 130 mph. They will make their final assessment once all the damage has been assessed.

There were some injuries during the storm, including three emergency transports and one non-emergency transport, said Keith Barnett, Elmore County EMA Director. The extent of their injuries is not known.

Emergency and volunteer crews are working in Elmore County to restore power and clear away debris. As of 6 p.m., approximately 60 Alabama Power customers were without service in Wetumpka.

Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis and emergency responders are still telling residents to stay away from the downtown area, including the historic Bibb Graves Bridge. The bridge has been shut down until the Alabama Department of Transportation can review it and see if it was structurally damaged by the tornado. All roadways leading into the west district of the city are still shut down until further notice.

A curfew has also been reinstated for the city of Wetumpka, from 6 p.m. Sunday night to 6 a.m. Monday morning. The Elmore County EMA says the curfew is necessary while utility service is restored.

The First Presbyterian Church was destroyed by the tornado and the First Baptist Church was damaged. Both churches still held services Sunday morning, though, with the Presbyterian congregation meeting at the Wetumpka Depot at 9 a.m. and the Baptist congregation meeting at the Wetumpka Community Center at 10 a.m.

The Wetumpka Police Department advised in a Sunday morning press conference that the police station, senior citizens center and the recreation center were lost in the tornado. The police department also said at least five police vehicles were damaged or destroyed.

WATCH: Wetumpka Police Department holds press conference after Saturday afternoon's tornado.

Posted by WSFA-TV on Sunday, January 20, 2019

Gov. Kay Ivey has been in touch with Mayor Willis, tweeting and assuring him of available assistance. She will visit Wetumpka Monday and tour the damaged areas.

The Central Alabama Community Foundation is raising money to help Wetumpka storm victims, establishing the Wetumpka Tornado Relief Fund. All donations will go to disaster relief. You can donate here.

If you want to volunteer to help in the clean-up efforts, call the Elmore County EMA office at 334-567-6451 to ensure coordination to maximize recovery and resources. The check in point will be the Elmore County DHR building by the judicial complex. The Coosa Cleaver in downtown Wetumpka will be closed Sunday to feed volunteers, responders and law enforcement officers.

To volunteer Monday, the Volunteer Reception Center at the DHR building will be open at 8 a.m. (volunteers will not be accepted after 3 p.m.). Volunteers must be “locals,” according to the EMA director, and be at least 13 and have a parent’s permission if under 18. There will be two staging areas set up for volunteers after initial registration at the VRC: Wetumpka High School and Wetumpka Football Stadium (Heavy Equipment). Wetumpka Fire Department will assign volunteers to the damaged areas.

Everyone is also urged to call the EMA office with any damage reports.

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