By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On the one year anniversary of the day that a massive wave of 62 tornados struck Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia released a written statement.
Rep. Bachus said, “The devastation that I saw traveling through places both large and small like Pratt City, Pleasant Grove, Concord, Fultondale, Moody and the Shoal Creek community in St. Clair County, and the City of Tuscaloosa remains fresh in my memory today. But so do the works of charity and faith that I witnessed, and the resilience symbolized by the loving recovery of a U.S. flag from the rubble of Alberta Elementary School.”
In addition to remembering the lives that were lost, the lives that were interrupted, and the property that was destroyed, Rep Bachus said that we need to learn how to be better prepared for the next time that tornados or hurricanes strike the state.
Rep. Bachus said, “Governor Bentley’s Tornado Action Recovery Committee, co-chaired by Pam Siddall and Johnny Johns, was a model public-private response and offered thoughtful and comprehensive recommendations. To those, I would add some observations based on issues that I’ve personally dealt with during the past year.”
Rep. Bachus said that building more storm shelters is needed but “it is important to get the regulations right. What might make sense in Washington does not always make sense in local communities. We have worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to change rules that could have forced schools to demolish newly-built storm shelters and to provide that that shelter construction programs cover the cost of land acquisition.”
Congressman Bachus added, “For those who do not have a television or radio turned on, or who are sleeping, a weather alert radio can be life-saving. The cost of a weather radio is small compared to the return on safety. In Congress, we are working on weather radio legislation for manufactured housing as an update to safety standards. Within a few years, technology will make mobile alerts through cell phones widely available.”
Rep. Bachus also said that improvements can be made in weather forecasting. Rep. Bachus said, “Enhanced satellite forecasting technology is another important part of the picture. During a meeting at the National Weather Service office in Calera, NOAA Administer Jane Lubchenco alerted me to a potential coverage gap in bringing an advanced satellite online. We worked to secure congressional support for the Joint Polar Satellite System and NOAA is now planning for the transition to even more precise imagery. That, in turn, will lead to earlier and more accurate warnings. “
Rep. Bachus said that the people of Alabama know that there will be tornadoes, but “We also know that with adequate preparation, we can save lives and help to minimize damage. Progress has been made in the year since a truly tragic day in the history of our state. But we cannot afford complacency and must never be afraid to ask the question, “What can we do better.”
Spencer Bachus represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District. The Sixth District includes Blount, Jefferson, Shelby, Coosa, Chilton, and Bibb Counties.
To Read Congressman Spencer Bachus’s statement in its entirety: