News Column

Two Months After Alabama Storms, Disaster Recovery Efforts Continue

July 1, 2014



MONTGOMERY, Ala., July 1 -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security'sFederal Emergency Management Agency issued the following news release:

As America celebrates the anniversary of its birth, many Alabama residents are still picking up the pieces of their lives, homes and businesses from spring storms.

This year's holiday marks the two-month anniversary of the devastating severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding that raked the state from April 28 through May 5.

Disaster recovery efforts continue as the focus changes from cleanup to rebuilding. State and federal disaster assistance now exceeds $32 million for households, individuals and businesses of the nine counties affected. Of that total, nearly $13 million have gone to survivors in the form of U.S. Small Business Administration loans and another $19 million in other FEMA grants.

Counties eligible for disaster assistance include: Baldwin, Blount, DeKalb, Etowah, Jefferson, Lee, Limestone, Mobile and Tuscaloosa.

With the application deadline now extended through Tuesday, July 15, state and federal officials expect to see the number of applications for assistance continue to increase.

At peak operations, in mid-May, more than 415 state and federal employees from across the country were working to meet the needs of disaster survivors who have registered for FEMA assistance. As of July 2, more than 18,000 residents have applied.

FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams visited more than 8,000 Alabama homes to provide information on registering for federal aid, guide people in the registration process and follow-up on pre- or post-disaster needs.

To date, nearly 15,000 homes impacted by the disaster have been inspected for damages with a two day turnaround from the time of application to inspection.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is only one part of a large team that continues to bring resources to assist communities. This team includes coordinated efforts between federal, state, local, nonprofit, private sector and faith-based organizations.

Some partners opened shelters and provided food while others offered low-interest disaster assistance loans for rebuilding.

Serve Alabama, a state agency set up by Gov. Robert Bentley that works to increase volunteerism in the state, has coordinated the work of volunteer agencies after this disaster. As of mid-May the agency recorded that 3,048 volunteers from numerous organizations throughout the country had donated nearly 22,000 hours to help survivors clean up debris, repair and rebuild their homes following the spring storms.

"It takes many agencies, government and private, as well as many individuals to help a community and its residents recover," said Federal Coordinating Officer Albie Lewis. "And Alabama will recover and become safer and stronger for the long run."

With debris removal nearing completion, FEMA has turned its attention to advising home and business owners of methods to repair and rebuild that can help reduce damages during future storms.

FEMA's mitigation outreach at Lowe's and Home Depot home improvement stores throughout the month of June helped to answer questions and give advice to 1,500 shoppers. One of the most frequently asked questions was how to prevent future damage.

FEMA's Public Assistance Program is in the process of reviewing grant applications for publicly owned facilities and storm-damaged infrastructure in the 21 counties. More than 105 Kick Off meetings with cities, communities and state applicants have been held to assess the needs, discuss disaster related damage and develop a plan of action for the facilities.

Grant money is flowing to state, county and local governments through PA reimbursement programs. Obligated funding includes nearly $500,000 for debris removal and nearly $342,000 to cover expenses related to storm response. Another nearly $285,000 has been obligated for reimbursement of infrastructure repair work.

An estimated $30 million in repairs and rebuilding infrastructure is anticipated for Alabama.

These grants provide at least 75 percent of the eligible costs for emergency measures and permanent restoration. The state and local government evenly split the remaining 25 percent.

"We are proud to partner with FEMA and pleased by its rapid response and assistance following this disaster," said Alabama's State Coordinating Officer, Jeff Byard. "Much work remains, but thanks to all of our partners, we have come a long way."

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Source: Targeted News Service


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