There were numerous structures that were permanently damaged, some completely flattened, by the tornado that tore through Wetumpka on Jan. 19, 2019.
The Fain Senior Center was one of the buildings completely destroyed.
According to center director Mary Ann Barrett, timing saved lives and helped provide a new home for the center.
Barrett said people at the center would have died if the tornado came through during the week.
“The tornado happened on a Saturday,” Barrett said. “We were closed. If it had not been closed, we would be dead.”
The center is part of the Central Alabama Aging Consortium. One of the its primary responsibilities is to serve hot food to seniors.
As a result, the center needed to find space with a kitchen and it needed to happen in less than 10 days.
Barrett said her first thought was to find space at Elmore Community Hospital, but those plans changed after the second day cleaning up what little was left of the senior center and its belongings.
“I was at my friend’s house eating soup and waiting on cornbread to cook,” Barrett said. “She suggested we move into the church where she’s a member. That’s actually how we got to this church — was waiting on the cornbread. If the food was ready, I would have grabbed it and went home.”
Today the senior center is housed at Cedarwood Community Church.
“Cedarwood is very good to us,” Barrett said. “They offered the church and we opened on that Monday (10 days after the tornado) and we have been going strong ever since.”
Barrett said the city and community stepped up with donations to keep the center going in its temporary home.
“We had a lot of folks who donated furniture,” she said. “Our senior center members donated. The (City of Wetumpka) has been really good to us. We have everything here that we need.”
Barrett indicated the church has not given her a deadline to move out.
“In fact, they are perfectly content we are here,” she said. “They have told (Mayor Jerry Willis) not to hurry.”
Eventually the senior center will move into a new space built specifically for seniors.
“We are going to move in into the old Faith Rescue building as soon as they complete the new police station,” she said. “We will get half of that space. The other half will be like the (Wetumpka) Civic Center with meeting space. The half we get will be plenty big enough for us.”
The Wetumpka police station was another structure damaged by the tornado.