‘Very fortunate’ county turns attention to helping others, EMA director says

Published 12:16 pm Thursday, April 28, 2011

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

Shelby County EMA Director Jeff Edwards said the county was “very fortunate” it wasn’t struck by a tornado Wednesday night.

There “were lots of chances” for a tornado, he said, primarily in western Shelby County.

“We had a couple of funnel clouds reported in the Montevallo area going up through the Shelby County Airport and that area,” Edwards said Thursday morning. “By the time it got toward Chelsea we didn’t have any reports of anything.”

The county was well prepared, he said.

“Any time we had a call we were on it,” Edwards said. “We were in contact with our first responders out in the field. If something happened, we would have been on it.”

Now, Edwards said, first responders from across the county are assisting in other areas that did receive significant tornado-related damage.

“We had a group that went to Tuscaloosa and helped out some last night,” he said.

Today, first responders are assisting primarily in Jefferson and Bibb counties.

In Jefferson County, fire departments from Alabaster, Pelham, Calera, Helena, Cahaba Valley and North Shelby, as well as the county highway department, are assisting, Edwards said.

An EMA employee and the county highway department is assisting in Bibb County, Edwards said. The Southeast Shelby Rescue Squad responded there last night but has since returned.

Last night’s storms proved the importance of individual families having a preparedness plan in place, Edwards said.

“They are the first line of defense, even before the first responders get there,” he said. “Make sure that everybody takes heed and is prepared as much as they can be.”