By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
The storms that hit Etowah County and Alabama last week have left a devastating impact on our community. While the EMA is still working on a damage assessment, it is already clear that in Etowah County we have suffered far more damage than the required threshold to be declared a federal disaster area.
In my opinion, if even one house or business takes damage, that should be enough for the state and federal government to get involved. We all pay our taxes, and that is what our tax money is for!
But unfortunately, the governor has left Etowah county out of his initial request for federal aide, claiming that he would add us back after the president declares Alabama a federal disaster area.
Even if the governor intends to add us to the list after the initial declaration, by leaving us out now he has delayed vital assistance that our people need right now!
These storms had a terrible impact throughout our state, and everyone who has suffered should be included in the request for help. I don’t understand why the governor left Etowah County off his initial request, but I hope he will work with us now.
I, and the other members of our state legislative delegation, have submitted a letter formally requesting Gov. Bentley immediately amend his application for an expedited declaration of Alabama as a disaster area to include Etowah County.
I have also asked Gov. Bentley to personally come and tour the damaged parts of Etowah County. The governor needs to see with his own eyes what has happened here so he can see the extent of the damage and understand the need to expedite our request for help. Having the governor here would also reassure the people of Etowah County that he is doing everything that he can to get us the help we need.
But the governor is not the only one we need to be working for us in Washington. Throughout all of this, I have not seen or heard from Congressman Aderholt or his office. And who could be a better advocate to the federal government for our community than our own congressman?
While I understand that requesting aide is a process, I also believe in the old adage: “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” The only way we will get the help we need is if all of our representatives in Montgomery and Washington are out there calling on the government to step in and help out.
One thing is certain: we cannot get help if we do not ask for it. And while this is an election year and there will be plenty of politicians blaming Obama for everything they can think of, these politicians cannot blame Obama if they never asked for the money in the first place!
Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.