KIMBERLY — [Editor's note: Most of this story ran in Wedmesday's print edition of The North Jefferson News, but this version includes updated information gathered since press deadlines. It also includes information that appeared previously at njeffersonnews.com.]
Three years and one day after a tornado devastated the city of Fultondale and many other cites in the Southeast, the storm cut a path across Interstate 65 and U.S. Hwy. 31 in north Jefferson County Monday night, leaving much of Kimberly in devastation.
A National Weather Service team surveyed the damage on Tuesday, and concluded that the storm was indeed a tornado. It was rated as EF-1 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, with a path 3.3 miles long and slightly less than half a mile wide at its widest point. The survey team said that the path began just west of I-65, at a point about a half mile south of Sardis Road. The tornado moved to the northeast through the heart of Kimberly, and lifted just short of Bill Jones Road.
Kimberly Church of God pastor Dr. Stan Cooke said residents had taken shelter inside the church basement, but all were unharmed because of a thick layer of concrete that separates the basement from the upper level of the church.
Kimberly Fire Chief Brian Gober was in the fire station’s day room with three other firefighters when the storm struck; the brick portion where the men were taking shelter is the only part of the building still standing.