Three months ago, violent storms and tornadoes caused devastation that changed the lives of Alabamians forever. Although we will never forget the tragedy that thousands of Alabamians have experienced, we continue to work with our partners across the emergency management team to assist the state in building communities that are stronger and more resilient.
I am proud to look back on the last 90 days and see the progress that has been made. To date,
- 90 percent of the staggering amount of debris has been removed from the storm-ravaged areas.
- Nearly 88,000 disaster survivors have applied for financial assistance from state, federal and volunteer agencies resulting in more than $140 million approved in federal assistance.
Some of this progress can be seen in a photo of Pratt City before and after:
- Some survivors have been able to find permanent housing solutions and are well on their way to rebuilding their lives.
Pratt City, AL, May 11, 2011 -- Blue tarps dot the landscape of a section of Pratt City hit by the April 27th tornado. Tarps are used to try and protect contents from further damage in homes not completely destroyed. FEMA has provided thousands of tarps to Alabama residents since the storms.
AL, July 26, 2011 -- Pratt City, AL, July 26, 2011 -- Disaster recovery and rebuilding near Cherry Ave. in Pratt City (Birmingham). FEMA is working to rebuild areas affected by the tornado that struck Alabama.
But, we still have work to do and now is the time for communities to look forward to the possibilities that recovery brings. Part of rebuilding is having a long-term community recovery plan, which unites public, private and nonprofit sectors, as well as members of the public, to identify resources for recovery projects through the Long Term Community Recovery program. So far, nine Alabama communities are participating, looking to rebuild stronger and safer.
The state is also focusing on building more resilient structures through hazard mitigation to lessen the effect of future disasters. Alabama was awarded $33 million in funding up front for mitigation. This funding may be used for many projects, including safe rooms aimed at saving lives and property.
Our goal has been, and will continue to be, helping the state, its communities and its people recover from the damage and dislocation caused by the storms. Now is the time to think about what the new reality will be for Alabama. It is not easy rising from the rubble, but with a helping hand Alabama can and will get back to a sense of normalcy.
For the latest on the ongoing Alabama recovery efforts, visit the disaster page.