Wetumpka vows to rebuild following possible EF-2 tornado


    The historic First Presbyterian Church in Wetumpka reduced to rubble following Saturday's possible EF-2 tornado.

    UPDATE: Sunday, the National Weather Service Birmingham's preliminary survey found that a high-end EF-2 tornado (120-130 mph) went through Wetumpka Saturday afternoon. Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis said two churches, one of which was the historic First Presbyterian Church suffered major damage. He added that 25 houses were destroyed at the hands of the storm, but there was only one minor injury.

    "We are devastated by this," Mayor Willis said. "We have never dealt with anything quite like it."

    As crews began the cleanup process, residents braved the cold to catch a glimpse of what Mother Nature caused Saturday afternoon.

    "It looked like a war zone where a bomb went off over there," Wetumpka resident Jack Davis said. "It is just awful."

    Mayor Willis says Governor Kay Ivey is expected to tour the damage Monday. As he spoke to ABC 33/40, he was reminded of a bracelet he wears on his left hand that says, "When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to that rock that is higher than I." He believes that the city will be led to that rock.

    "This is when we apply our faith," Mayor Willis said. We apply what we believe in, and I know the people in this community will do that. We are hurt inside, but we are still smiling, and we will get through this, but we will all do it together, working together."

    Mayor Willis says this has "has taken a toll on us." He adds that historic buildings and historic churches are destroyed. Homes that have been here for more than a century have been flattened. Half of the police station has been damaged and that the senior citizen center has been decimated. Mayor Willis adds that no major injuries have yet to be reported.

    Elmore County Commissioner Troy Stubbs says they are continuing to assess the damage in Wetumpka and along the river and is hopeful that everyone will be found safe.

    Commissioner Stubbs in conjunction with Mayor Willis and the Elmore County Sheriff's Office has implemented a 6:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m. curfew for downtown Wetumpka due to the extensive damage and power lines that are on the ground.

    Mayor Willis vows that the City will be even better once everything is put back together.

    We will continue to update this story as additional information becomes available.



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