FULTONDALE — Two years ago a tornado touched down in north Jefferson, causing severe damage mainly in the city of Fultondale.
The first few hours of havoc following the April 27, 2011 storm evolved into organized chaos. Residents and outsiders combined efforts to clear debris from streets and from neighbors’ yards, as well as check on neighbors and friends.
For many days, city officials organized countless volunteers to help sort out the mess left by the twister.
There was a spirit of goodwill that some say still remains in the city today.
“People have a new outlook about what’s important to them compared to two years ago,” said Fultondale inspections officer Darryl Aldrich. “People are more caring toward their neighbors now. Everyone seems willing to work together; to get in there, roll up their sleeves and do it.”
Mayor Jim Lowery added that the tornado changed the way city leaders make decisions.
For one thing, the storm affirmed the city council’s decision to build a new fire station west of Interstate 65 in order to have emergency resources more spread out. Also, Lowery said, the city no longer purchases vehicles that do not include emergency lighting and equipment.
And there will soon be two large community storm shelters in the city.
Fultondale has received more than $1.2 million in federal funding to build two storm. One shelter is to be located off Central Avenue near the ball fields across from Fultondale Elementary School and will accommodate 400 people; the other will likely be on the west side of town at the new Fire Station No. 2 and will hold 300 people.
“We are trying to be more prepared for this type of weather in the future,” Lowery said. “Now our thought process in just about anything we do, especially related to public safety, is a direct affect of going through that.”