Governor offers help to Alabama towns hit by killer tornado

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James Scott, 19, pauses while picking through the remains of his home, which was destroyed by a tornado, on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Fultondale, Ala. Scott, who survived with his mother and sister, had never lived anywhere else and isn't sure where he will wind up after the storm. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

FULTONDALE, Ala. – James Scott has never lived anywhere other than a two-story house on hilly Darlene Drive north of Birmingham. Home will never be the same after a tornado smashed the structure into pieces, killed another teen and left the community devastated in the middle of the night.

Standing in the middle of the destruction Tuesday, the 19-year-old stared blankly at the rubble for a few moments, seemingly unsure what to do next.

“It's time to regroup and start clean,” he said. “It's the best I can hope for.”

The terrifying nighttime tornado that blasted through suburban Birmingham late Monday, trapping entire families in the remnants of shattered homes and injuring 30, left a trail of destruction that stunned even longtime residents used to Alabama’s violent weather.

Gov. Kay Ivey promised help while touring the area Wednesday.

“The people of Alabama are praying for y’all this morning. And we’re here as a sign of our commitment to your recovery,” Ivey said at a press conference where she offered condolences to the people of Fultondale and Center Point, and to the family of 14-year-old Elliott Hernandez, who was killed. “Homes and business can be rebuilt, but losing a young soul to a storm like this is beyond heartbreaking.”

Hernandez, a ninth-grader, was killed and several relatives were critically injured when their home collapsed, trapping them in the basement, Fultondale Police Chief D.P. Smith said.

“They were doing what they were supposed to be doing,” Smith said.