As far as Fultondale residents are concerned, April 27, 2011 is a day that will live in infamy.
That day a powerful EF-4 tornado damaged or destroyed many homes, apartment homes and businesses that left physical scars that can be seen after a full year of recovery efforts.
In the days following the worst natural disaster to ever visit north Jefferson County, Fultondale Mayor Jim Lowery and other city officials were amazed that no resident was seriously injured or killed. They call it a miracle.
Fortunately, the supercell storm veered more to the east than straight north. Otherwise, it could have wrecked Gardendale, Mt. Olive, Morris, Kimberly, Warrior and other cities along U.S. 31 North.
For those who had never seen such destruction by nature’s fury, many first-time observers said, “It looks like a bomb went off.” The residential neighborhood of Glendale behind city hall took a direct hit, and the devastation remains apparent today.
The tornado tore roofs off of many houses, large trees were uprooted and fell across other houses, while some were virtually swept off foundations. Fultondale First Baptist Church suffered major damage, as did several newer full brick homes behind the library. More than 80 people took shelter in the library as the giant funnel cloud had its way with man’s creations.
Fire Station No. 1 beside city hall looked like a giant can opener had peeled off major portions of the metal building. The apartment buildings on U.S. 31 were hit hard, and many are yet to be completely repaired.
Though many keepsake treasures were gone with the wind, most residents’ material possessions can eventually be replaced. In Alabama 249 people died that day, but none in Fultondale. Because no one perished, perhaps April 27, 2012 should also be a day of thanksgiving in Fultondale.