IT’S ALL DIFFERENT AFTER 4-27-11: Like many people affected by the tornadoes that struck Alabama in April, 21-year-old Angelleah Markham of Hackleburg professes to have undergone a sort of personal transformation. Markham’s house was destroyed by an EF-5 tornado, and she and her two-year-old son Nick were picked up and dropped a few hundred feet away, according to a May 30 report by Erika Odell of WAAY-TV in Huntsville. Markham suffered some broken and crushed bones but never let go of Nick. They both survived. “God was with us on that day,” Markham told Odell. “There’s no other explanation for it at all.” And she is determined to live her life with a fresh outlook. “I want to be something, [to] make something of my life, because apparently, it is special,” Markham said. Check it out at www.waay.com.
LOSING THE NEWS CYCLE: Cordova Mayor Jack Scott is not winning a lot of friends right now, due to his decision to enforce a city ordinance against single-wide trailers, the kind usually provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to people displaced by disasters like the recent tornadoes. The city’s refusal to let homeless residents occupy this temporary FEMA housing—despite the fact that the city government is using some single-wides for office space—has many pissed-off Cordova residents circulating petitions to remove Scott from office, according to Jay Reeves of the AP on May 30. Scott said he doesn’t want run-down mobile homes parked all over town years from now. Joey Kennedy of The Birmingham News had some fun at the mayor’s expense in an op-ed May 30, saying that “Scott is a truly sensitive man (read: sarcasm).”
WHAT THE BEAN-COUNTERS SAY: Floods and tornadoes in the South and elsewhere have hurt local economies, yet damage to the overall U.S. economy will probably be small, according to a May 28 report from the Associated Press. Of course, as the article points out, the tornado season isn’t over, and hurricane season is on the way.
“This is a very extreme year,” according to Tom Larsen, a vice president at Eqecat, a firm that estimates the impact of catastrophes, “There will be more tornadoes and more property damage.”
DON’T FORGET US, UNCLE SAM: More than a month after tornadoes hit Tuscaloosa, there’s been little rebuilding, nearly 100 survivors are living in shelters and five people are still missing, according to a May 29 report from Steve Osunsami and Michael Murray at abcnews.go.com. Some residents told ABC that while the federal government showed up quickly after the event, the Feds are now moving more slowly. “America should definitely not forget about us,” Tuscaloosa resident Naomi Wilson said. “These people in this area are going to be needing help for so long.”
WHAT ARE THE ODDS? One University of Alabama student was forced to experience both the EF-4 Tuscaloosa tornado in April and the EF-5 tornado that hit Joplin, Mo., May 22. The Tuscaloosa storm destroyed much of the Forest Lake neighborhood only three blocks from April Fuller’s home, according to a May 30 report by Wayne Grayson of The Tuscaloosa News. Fuller then drove home to Joplin, her hometown, only to find herself riding out the tornado there, which also passed within three blocks of her house. “At first I just burst into tears because I couldn’t handle this again, especially in my home town,” Fuller said. “It was just shock.” Read all about it at www. tuscaloosanews.com
CHICAGO HOPE: Representatives from several local churches in the Austin neighborhood in Chicago visited storm-damaged areas in Alabama, including Pratt City, earlier this month, according to a May 30 report by Vee L. Harrison of austintalks.org. The mission—Operation Hope for Alabama—included members of the LEADERS Network, a collaboration of local churches. A delegation of 25, including several ministers and 20 young people, made the trip. “From everything we saw, reconstruction is going to take a very long time,” according to Robbie Wilkerson of New Birth Christian Center, who has family in Alabama. “We hope that Chicagoans will commit to this work for the long haul.”