BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Monday marks four weeks since the deadly EF-3 tornado that hit Fultondale on January 25th.
“You are talking years before anything gets back to a sense of normalcy,” Fultondale Fire Chief Justin McKenzie said. “Most of the debris that’s been removed were trees or shrubbery that were in the roadways and tossed around the city. All the parts that are on people’s houses and stuff, a lot of that is still there.”
Large trees are still crushing homes and yards and still need to be cleaned up. Fultondale Fire Chief Justin McKenzie said rainy and winter weather can only make the problem worse.
“A lot of the pipes that might have been somewhat damaged during that time, when the freezing weather hit, then we ended up having a lot of water main breaks in damaged buildings,” he said. “When it gets warm, that could cause mold and other issues. Saturated wood can cause more collapses, so we really need the help to get out there.”
McKenzie said 65 homes are destroyed and more than 80 have major structural damage, but he said the city is still calculating and it’s likely more than 200 homes are destroyed.
He said many houses still need to be tarped to help protect from future rain storms.
McKenzie said the city is waiting to hear back on the individual assistance FEMA application, that will help provide funds to homeowners who are impacted. But, he said the city has less than a week to meet a damage threshold for public FEMA assistance that would help reimburse businesses and the city.
“If there are individuals who you know need help, it would be better to help them as individuals than to wait on the federal government,” McKenzie said. He said it is hard to tell what assistance the city will get from FEMA right now.
“I know it’s been a while, couple weeks from it, but our residents still need help,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie said calling 211 is how to get on a list for help. He said case workers will be working with individuals to get them temporary and long-term housing and other assistance.