Tornado Recovery in Smith Institute
Officials involved in tornado recovery efforts in the Smith Institute community of Etowah County held a press conference today to give an update on storm damage and to praise the recovery efforts. While there is no official word yet from the National Weather Service on the category of the storm that hit the community in the early morning hours of Tuesday, Gadsden/Etowah County EMA officials have completed a preliminary damage assessment and say that a total of 120 homes were impacted by the storm. Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin says that the damaged area will continue to be a restricted access area until Sunday night. Community members and volunteers are all being given wristbands that allow access to the area. Anyone seeking to enter the area is being required to register at the volunteer center that is set up at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church. Among the hundreds of volunteers that are helping in the recovery are a number of students from Sardis High School. Principal Wendy Gibbs says that about 25 of her students were directly impacted by the storm and that other students are practically begging to help. Another topic discussed this afternoon was donations. People from all over the state want to make donations to the recovery effort, so a donation management center has been set up at the future location of Free Life Church…just off of Hwy 431…across from the sand Mountain Drive-In.