Jefferson County Commission

Much Obliged: JeffCo Wins New Award for Helping Autauga County After Tornado

Left to right: Joe Knight, Roads and Transportation Director Chris Nicholson, Deputy Director Tyler Hayes and Deputy County Manager Heather Carter, who preceded Nicholson as director of that department. (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

The Roads and Transportation Department of Jefferson County received a heartfelt “thank you” Thursday for coming to the rescue of Autauga County after it was hit by a January tornado.

The county road crew became the first recipient of the first One Family Award because of its efforts in the wake of the tornado. The award was presented last week during the convention of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.

On Jan. 12, Jefferson County dispatched county workers to help Autauga dig out after the tornado ravaged the county. Joe Knight, now president of ACCA, recalled asking his predecessor, Autauga County Commissioner Jay Thompson, if there was anything Jefferson County could do to help.

“He said, ‘We don’t meet FEMA requirements because basically the damage wasn’t enough to cross the threshold,’” Knight recounted. “They didn’t have much in the way of personnel and trucks.”

After he conferred with his fellow commissioners and the county manager, Jefferson County sent 30 workers to Autauga County with several trucks to help.

“It didn’t go unnoticed,” Knight said. “At the convention last week, (Thompson) made mention of it in and teared up. He said, ‘When I saw your trucks coming in, it was like the cavalry coming over the hill to help us out and rescue us in our time of need.’”

Knight said Jefferson County can relate.

“We’ve been there,” he said. “We have been where we needed help and others helped us. We were able to deploy a crew down there.”

The meeting also included a resolution honoring Birmingham Times founder Jesse Lewis. “I am not old,” the 96-year-old said. “I’m getting there.”