Wetumpka Residents Reflect on Tornado Anniversary

Sunday officially marked the one year anniversary since an EF-2 tornado damaged homes, businesses, and churches in Wetumpka.

On Sunday, the community held a praise service to remember that day, and to reflect on the progress made in the rebuilding efforts.

“As bad as it was on that January 19, 2019, the opportunities that we’ve been given because of that to allow us to improve, to be the best that we can possibly be,” Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis said.

Dozens of community leaders, residents and law enforcement came to the service at First Baptist Church in Wetumpka.

Resident Sam Turner says he was at the fire station when the tornado hit. He says the community has come together in ways he hadn’t seen before.

“I think that’s one of the strongest things that the community has is the way everybody in all the communities came to support the people here,” Turner said.

Willis says the city is about 85%t cleaned up. He says it could take about two years to get everything back to normal.

“We’re building back a police department, a police station. We’ll be building back a senior citizen center that is yet to come. But we’re taking it one step at a time in order to put it back like it needs to be. And this will be an opportunity to have a senior center,” Willis said.

Residents agree the city continues to be “Wetumpka Strong,” despite the strain of the rebuilding process.

“The community has changed; it has changed us completely. I see people speaking to each other that used to not talk. and I’ve seen groups come together that used to not have anything to do with each other,” Willis said.

The Wetumpka Police Department was heavily damaged in that tornado.
Willis says the department is in the final stages of moving into its new location, which could be complete in February.

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