By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The lives of thousands of Alabamians changed five years ago when tornados and severe weather ripped with more than half of Alabama’s counties on April 27, 2011. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) remembered that day on Wednesday. Gov. Bentley visited one of the hardest hit areas to assess the progress five years later and highlight the State’s response.
Gov. Bentley said, “Alabama will never forget the more than 250 people who lost their lives on April 27, 2011. Today, five years later, Alabama is better prepared to face the next natural disaster due to the lessons learned in how we prepare and respond. I am proud of the efforts state agencies made to help communities recover.”
US Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) said in a statement, “Today we remember the lives tragically claimed by the storms of April 27, 2011. The tornadoes which ripped through the Southeast five years ago did unprecedented damage in Alabama, tearing apart not just our homes and businesses but countless families. However, in those darkest of days, the people of our state united in a common purpose to reveal their true nature. The love and service shown in the following days and weeks through the giving of time, aid, and prayer brought our communities together like never before. The work which began the morning after the storms to rebuild our communities from the destruction continues to this day. As we look back on how far our state has come in these short five years, let us take time to cherish the memories of the loved ones who were lost and who will never be replaced.”
US Representative Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) said in a statement, “Today marks five years since an unprecedented outbreak of tornadoes ripped through the State of Alabama killing 252 people and leveling whole communities. We can all remember where we were that day and how time stood still as we realized just how devastating these storms were and how Alabama would never be the same.”
US Representative Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) whose boyhood hometown of Hackleburg was effectively turned into rubble said, “Today we remember the 252 people who lost their lives 5 years ago when 62 tornados ripped through Alabama destroying homes, communities, and families. The tornados severely damaged my hometown of Hackleburg, and our community lost 18 friends and neighbors that day.”
Sen. Sessions said, “The work which began the morning after the storms to rebuild our communities from the destruction continues to this day. As we look back on how far our state has come in these short five years, let us take time to cherish the memories of the loved ones who were lost and who will never be replaced.”
Congressman Palmer said, “In one of our state’s darkest hours, we saw neighbors come together to rebuild the place they call home, not because they had to but because that’s who the people of Alabama are. As we look back, let us pray for the families of those who lost loved ones as they continue to rebuild their communities and their lives.”
State Senator Paul Bussman (R-Cullman) said in a statement, “Today is a day that many of us will never forget. 62 tornadoes across Alabama with 252 deaths. It was a terrible day! But from that day I saw just how great Alabama really is. I saw people from all over AL coming to the aid of those affected with trucks, tractors, chain saws, food, water and compassion. Churches and other organizations cooking and feeding. I truly saw the best of Alabama. Government agencies working at full speed, fire departments, police, ambulances, power and gas companies all responding. We all know there are some problems in Alabama, but when the citizens of Alabama are challenged, they respond in a fantastic and beautiful way. I am so proud to represent such a great State and District.”
Congresswoman Roby said, “There are countless stories from that day and its aftermath: stories of loss and devastation, but also stories of heroism and hope. People in our state came together in a very special way to help their neighbors in need, protect people they had never met, and serve each other as never before.”
The Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) was the lead coordinating agency for 58 state and federal agencies during the response and recovery efforts for 35 counties and 80 cities impacted by the April 27, 2011 storms. AEMA provided help through Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation grants and other programs. Alabama has received over $361 million in grants and aid. Mitigation grants provided funding for nearly 4,500 residential safe rooms and community safe rooms.
AEMA Director Art Faulkner said, “The coordination of State and Federal agencies is critical in any response to a natural disaster, and Alabama is better prepared today than ever before. Alabama’s unified response is a result of local, State and Federal partnerships we have worked to establish during non-disaster times.”
Governor Bentley announced on Wednesday the creation of the Alabama Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Task Force. The new task force is to make recommendations regarding comprehensive, strategic and long-term reforms that enhance the efficient and cost-effective delivery of emergency management services in Alabama. The Alabama Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Task Force will study the cost of disasters to Alabama and make recommendations regarding comprehensive, strategic and long-term reforms that enhance the efficient and cost effective delivery of emergency management services in Alabama.
Gov. Bentley said, “With the creation of the new Alabama Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Task Force, we will further the state’s effort to recover from future disasters by allowing this task force to review and recommend a stronger way to provide services need to help communities recover.”
Rep. Roby said, “We remember the those we lost that awful day. We ask prayers of comfort for their families on what must be a difficult anniversary for them. And, we recommit ourselves to serving and looking out for our neighbors just as we did after April 27, 2011.”
Since World War II, more Alabamians have been killed by tornados than people in any other State.