A little more than 3 months after the April tornadoes—the worst natural disaster in Alabama history—the state is making good progress toward recovery, according to an Aug. 5 report by Marty Roney of USA Today. “Everybody is getting fed, everybody has a roof over their heads,” Jeff Byard, who is coordinating the recovery for the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, told Roney. Gov. Robert Bentley said that the cleanup of storm debris is going well, and he is considering a requirement that all mobile home parks in Alabama have community shelters or safe rooms, perhaps using expected federal dollars. Roney spoke to Phil Campbell resident W.G. Cochran, who rode out the storm in a shelter before coming out to see that the storm had decimated his neighborhood. “Everything was gone, just gone,” Cochran said. Check out Roney’s story (“Alabama recovering after worst tornadoes in state history”) and some Associated Press video at www.usatoday.com.
Family members of five of the six University of Alabama students killed by the April tornadoes in Tuscaloosa attended graduation ceremonies on campus Aug. 5 and received degrees given posthumously to their family members. “You picture seeing your daughter doing this, not doing it for her,” Allan Sigler told Reuters for its Aug. 6 report. He is the father of Morgan Sigler, 23, who died along with two friends when the tornado destroyed her home. The university postponed its usual spring graduation because Tuscaloosa could not support an influx of visitors at the time given the damage to its water and power systems. To read the Reuters piece, Google “Alabama gives posthumous degrees to students killed by tornadoes.”
Joe Pappalardo of Popular Mechanics magazine offers tips to those who wish to get through a protracted power outage caused by a natural disaster (he cites Huntsville, which lost power for nearly a week after the April storms, as an example). Pappalardo tells storm survivors to stick together with others; to keep battery-powered or hand-cranked radios among their emergency-preparedness supplies; to keep cash on hand (“No power means no ATMs, but commerce will continue,” he says); and to seek out hotels that are part of national chains, because these chains often have the ability to bring in supplies and support from beyond the disaster zone. Pappalardo’s article also includes tips for business and government. You can read his story, “8 Things the 2011 Tornadoes Taught Us about Surviving a Long-Term Power Outage,” at www.popularmechanics.com.
Volunteers from six states, including Maine, arrived in Webster’s Chapel, Ala., Sunday, Aug. 7, in order to help rebuild a church destroyed by the April storms, according to an Aug. 8 report by Gadsden Times staff writer Lisa Rogers. The volunteers are with the Men and Women in Action International ministry. Read Nelson’s story, “Ministry volunteers rebuilding church in Webster’s Chapel,” at www.gadsdentimes.com
NO PLACE LIKE HOME:
South Point, Ohio, resident Adam Gaskin returned home in early August after spending more than two months in north Alabama helping storm victims. Gaskin is a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Temporary Housing Team and supervises the installation of FEMA trailer homes, according to an Aug. 7 report by Teresa Moore at Lawrence County, Ohio, news site www.irontontribune.com. Gaskin’s work took him to hard-hit Franklin, Marion and Lawrence counties and such towns as Phil Campbell and Hackleburg. “It was like a war zone,” Gaskin told Moore.
SAVE THE ANIMALS:
I just came across a web site called “Animals lost and found in Alabama Tornadoes” (altornadoanimals. wordpress.com). You can submit photographs and information about animals that have been lost and found since the April storms to be posted on the site. There are listings from more than 20 counties in the state. The organizers of the site describe themselves as a “group of local Alabama animal rescuers.” You can also contact them at www.facebook. com/ALTornadoAnimals or twitter.com/ ALtornadopets.
Jesse Chambers is a contributing writer for The Birmingham Weekly and B-Metro magazine. Send your comments to email@example.com