HACKLEBURG – As Alabama continues to rebuild and recover after deadly tornadoes devastated more than half of Alabama’s counties on April 27, 2011, Governor Robert Bentley on Wednesday visited one of the hardest hit areas to assess the progress five years later and highlight the state’s response.
“Alabama will never forget the more than 250 people who lost their lives on April 27, 2011,” Governor Bentley said. “Today, five years later, Alabama is better prepared to face the next natural disaster due to the lessons learned in how we prepare and respond. I am proud of the efforts state agencies made to help communities recover.”
The Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) was the lead coordinating agency for 58 state and federal agencies during the response and recovery efforts for 35 counties and 80 cities impacted by the April 27, 2011 storms. The agency played a critical role in helping the state recover by providing help through Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation grants and other programs. To date, Alabama has received over $361 million in grants and aid. Mitigation grants provided funding for nearly 4,500 residential safe rooms and community safe rooms.
“The coordination of state and federal agencies is critical in any response to a natural disaster, and Alabama is better prepared today than ever before,” AEMA Director Art Faulkner said. “Alabama’s unified response is a result of local, state and federal partnerships we have worked to establish during non-disaster times.”
In addition to AEMA, several other state agencies were instrumental in helping rebuild Alabama.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) provided cities and counties over $75 million in federal assistance grants. The Disaster Community Development Block Grant provided support for housing developments, infrastructure repair and debris removal.
Serve Alabama partnered with the United Ways of Alabama to help register volunteers to help in the recovery effort. They coordinated more than 52,000 volunteers in the field for a total of 325,095 volunteer hours. This does not include the tremendous effort of the affiliated volunteers serving through organizations like the Salvation Army, various religious organizations and the American Red Cross.
In May of 2011, Governor Bentley established the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund (GERF) to help with unmet recovery needs that unfolded in the wake of the recent deadly tornado outbreak across the state. To date, more than $6 million has been raised for the GERF, and approximately $5.7 million has been spent to help fund community safe rooms which have been proven to save lives in a tornado and upgrade outdoor emergency warning systems to alert citizens to dangerous weather.
Governor Bentley also announced the creation of the Alabama Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Task Force. The purpose of this task force is to make recommendations regarding comprehensive, strategic and long-term reforms that enhance the efficient and cost-effective delivery of emergency management services in Alabama. The Alabama Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Task Force will study the cost of disasters to Alabama and make recommendations regarding comprehensive, strategic and long-term reforms that enhance the efficient and cost effective delivery of emergency management services in Alabama.
“With the creation of the new Alabama Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Task Force, we will further the state’s effort to recover from future disasters by allowing this task force to review and recommend a stronger way to provide services need to help communities recover,” Governor Bentley added.
Photos from the Governor’s tour of Hackleburg can be found here.