Wetumpka Strong

The band Rainbow warms up at the event.

Almost five months after an EF2 tornado went through the city, a Wetumpka Strong luncheon celebrated the recovery now well underway.

The luncheon at the civic center featured music from local band Rainbow, comedian Tim Lovelace, Elmore County Commissioner Mack Daugherty and group The Upbeats.

“This is an opportunity to bring together our people of the community, people affected by the storm and other people who assisted us during the storms,” Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis said. “This is trying to put some smiles back on some faces because we haven’t had a lot to smile about since January, so what a better way to do it than to have music and food.”

Lovelace told the audience during his routine about originally planning to perform in Wetumpka in January when Willis called him and canceled, saying he needed to check on residents. 

“To me that really represents a lot when a mayor and a city and first responders had to go house to house,” Lovelace said. “They didn’t know what kind of damage it is.”

State Rep. Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka) said he remembered 800 volunteers helping the day after the tornado struck.

“Unbelievable damage, particularly to our historic district, and personal injuries were limited, thank God, but property damage was off the charts,” Holmes said. “We’re now getting into the repairing/building phase and things are being built back, so we got hope Wetumpka’s going to (get better).”

 “I think (the event is) important so everybody can know what’s going on and that people are recovering and still finding out where they need help at,” Wetumpka resident Monica Henderson said.

Willis said he had a good time at the event.

“I think it helps people feel better about what’s going on and we try to be open about everything we do,” Willis said. “This is an opportunity to celebrate that God had His hand upon us and He protected us through the storm and we want to thank Him and give honor to Him.”