Tornado Destroys Areas In North Jefferson County Killing At Least One


Fultondale Fire Department's Facebook Page

This is a developing story. It was last updated January 27, 2021 at 11:35 a.m.

At least one person is dead after a tornado tore through the Fultondale area Monday night.

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office has identified the 14-year-old as Elliott Hernandez, of Fultondale.

Elliott Hernandez was the only person killed in the tornado that struck Fultondale on January 25, 2021.

Hernandez was discovered by first responders in the basement of a single-family residence that collapsed during the storm. Several other family members were critically injured, according to authorities.

Hernandez was a 9th grader and attended Jefferson County Schools, according to school officials.

Officials believe everyone is accounted for after Monday night’s tornado, according to Fultondale Fire Chief Justin McKenzie during a press conference Wednesday morning.

The City of Fultondale has been hit by a possible tornado. Multiple injuries have been reported, multiple structures…

Posted by Fultondale Fire Department on Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The “large and extremely dangerous tornado” struck the suburban area north of Birmingham at about 10:44 p.m., according to the National Weather Service in Birmingham. The Center Point and Clay areas were also impacted.

The storm was upgraded Tuesday night to an EF-3 tornado with peak winds around 150 miles per hour, according to the NWS. In a preliminary survey, the weather service said the tornado was “at least a High-End E2.”

At least 18 people have been hospitalized and 11 others were treated on the scene, according to Fultondale Fire Chief Justin McKenzie.

“Sadly here in Fultondale, we’re very experienced in this sort of thing,” said McKenzie.

This area was hit hard in the April 2011 tornado outbreak.

“It’s very tough to go and see them sitting on their front porch and the look on their face because most of them are still in shock,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight at a press conference Tuesday morning. “These people need help out here.”

Fultondale police officials are still responding to calls and surveying the damage. Some homes and businesses were destroyed. There were overturned cars, downed trees and lots of debris.

We will be working for secondary search and rescue starting at 7a this morning. Please stay clear of the area while…

Posted by Fultondale Fire Department on Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Nearby schools closed Monday because of extensive damage, according to Jefferson County Schools.

Those schools include Fultondale High, Fultondale Elementary, Center Point High, Erwin Middle, Erwin Intermediate, Center Point Elementary, Clay-Chalkville High, Clay-Chalkville Middle, Bryant Park Elementary, Chalkville Elementary, and Clay Elementary.

“It was a blessing that it happened at night and not during the day because I do believe that if we’d had people in the building, we’d possibly have some fatalities,” said Jefferson County Superintendent Walter Gonsoulin. “We saw the roof ripped back. We saw some air conditioning units just sucked out of the building. We saw a lot of glass, windows busted out.”

WBHM’s Andrew Yeager spoke with Here & Now about the tornado that ripped through Fultondale. (Video/Photos: Janae Pierre, Dachy Beauvais)

“This is literally down the street from where I live,” said resident Dachy Beauvais on social media. “It’s an eerie sound like no other. Tornado sounds like a freight train coming full speed.”

Gigi Douban, Janae Pierre, Andrew Yeager and Priska Neely contributed to this story.


Alabama Republicans weigh-in on their favorite primary candidates 

Nine Republicans are for governor in Alabama and six for an open U.S. Senate seat.

Regional Edward R. Murrow honors awarded to WBHM, Gulf States Newsroom

WBHM 90.3 FM and the Gulf States Newsroom won 13 of the 18 regional Edward R. Murrow awards for 2022, including Overall Excellence for WBHM for the second year in a row.

Alabama Democrats hope for improved showing in 2022 elections

Republicans hold all statewide offices plus supermajorities in the state legislature. But Alabama Democrats are in a good position this year, according to the head of the Alabama Democratic Party.

Ivey, challengers race to right in Alabama GOP primary

The race was supposed to be a cake walk for Gov. Kay Ivey, who still remains favored to win a second full term. But right flank opponents are trying to make it a referendum on her conservative credentials.

Party match-ups go to the voters in balloting on Tuesday

The Alabama primary elections are May 24th. Do you know who's on the ballot? Check out the complete list and sample ballots.

Deliberate Indifference: A conversation about Alabama, Mississippi prison issues

WBHM’s Mary Scott Hodgin talks with Brittany Brown of the Gulf States Newsroom about issues plaguing Alabama and Mississippi prisons.

More Front Page Coverage