FULTONDALA, Ala. (WIAT) — Tornado debris pickup started in Fultondale Monday morning as neighbors continue to try and move forward.
Damage assessments were being done across the county, leaders announced during a news conference.
“Those trucks started today, they started picking up the debris to move it from the affected areas. With that being said, please do not cover up any vital operations including hydrants, water access, things like that,” said Fultondale Fire Chief Justin McKenzie.
McKenzie said officials were still gathering a final total for impacted properties. The assessments are critical for the possibility of federal assistance.
“For federal assistance, you have to reach a certain threshold. That is why it is very important for us to get the debris collected as it is, but until we reach that threshold and get the damage assessment completed, we won’t know the answer for that,” said McKenzie.
So far, McKenzie said there were 61 commercial properties that were either damaged or destroyed. The city believes there are more than 200 residential properties effected.
For those in need of help or wanting to assist, McKenzie encouraged calling 211.
“That call service takes any requests, that gets back to us. We are getting a daily report from that now, that way we know who wants the help and who needs the help,” McKenzie said.
Volunteers can still drop off donations at the Fultondale Gas Department Warehouse building on Old New Castle Road.
City leaders said they’ve been overwhelmed by the donations pouring in so far. Volunteers were still needed Monday to move the items from city hall to the old warehouse.
“All across the spectrum, people have been coming out volunteering. Companies have been donating. They had to move their warehouse from here to another location because they were overwhelmed here,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight, who represents the area.
As contractors descend on the area to begin work, leaders urged residents to protect themselves.
“When you hire a contractor to come in, please make sure they are permitted properly, that is the only way we can vet these contractors, and that gives us a paper trail to make sure we are following up the way we should be and that you are not being done wrong,” said McKenzie.
For a list of items needed for victims and more on FEMA debris clearing guidelines, click here.