City of Fultondale still working to rebuild two years after deadly tornado

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 10:53 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - It has been two years since a deadly EF-3 tornado ripped through Fultondale, killing a teen and leaving hundreds of homes in pieces. Now, two years later, and families are still working to rebuild. Officials said more than 260 homes were damaged and more than 60 businesses were hit hard.

“It’s a huge emotional strain for our residents,” Fultondale Fire Chief Justin McKenzie said. “We knew it was not going to be an immediate recovery or response, but when you deal with tornado destruction, that is years of issues. You never forget what actually happened.”

Driving down the path of the tornado today, things look a lot different. On New Castle Road, you can see some homes are already back up, while some haven’t been touched. The city did not qualify for any FEMA assistance.

“Some people took the insurance money or didn’t have insurance, so we have several that were deemed a nuisance and we are going through the city process now,” McKenzie said. “Out of the 260 some homes, I would estimate about two-thirds rebuilt. They’re building back as we speak.”

The fire department is working on the permits for all the new builds and McKenzie said Fultondale is actually seeing more growth since the tornado.

“We have new construction coming in and new subdivisions coming in,” he said. “The residents that we may have lost because the storm, we have gained them back, maybe more. It’s all about resilience and we are stronger than ever.”

McKenzie said they are reviewing their safety plans and now have FEMA trained city workers.

“We are working with the EMA right now and we’re going through and trying to update everything,” he said. “What we can provide now is better than what we could provide back in 2011 and even two years ago.”

The Fultondale Hampton Inn was one business destroyed by the tornado and McKenzie said it is almost done with construction. They added in another floor and are now working on the interior. He said it should be ready sometime in March.

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