In response to Gov. Kay Ivey’s request on March 4, President Donald Trump approved a Major Disaster Declaration for Lee County on Tuesday triggering the release of federal funds to help people and communities recover from severe storms, straight-line winds and tornadoes that occurred March 3, 2019.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance Program will provide assistance to residents of Lee County, Alabama.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
“President Trump has been very gracious and pledged his unwavering support to Alabama since the devastating storms and tornadoes struck Alabama over the weekend. Twenty-three lives were lost and dozens of Alabamians were injured,” Ivey said. “This is a difficult time for the state of Alabama, but knowing that we have this additional assistance and the support of our president and folks across the country, we will get through this together. We will recover, and we will lift up Lee County in this time of need.”
Earlier in the day, members of the Alabama congressional delegation who represent the areas impacted by the March 3 tornadoes sent a letter to Trump in support of Ivey’s request for an expedited major disaster declaration for the state of Alabama. The letter was led by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, and was also signed by Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, along with Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, and Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama.
“On March 3, 2019, severe storms and tornadoes touched down in the eastern part of Alabama and caused catastrophic damage in Lee County and the surrounding areas,” the letter read. “Considering the scope and intensity of this natural disaster, we ask that you carefully review Gov. Ivey’s request for an expedited major disaster declaration. In doing so, you will allow thousands of Alabamians to begin the slow process of rebuilding.”
“The destruction and tragic loss of life caused by Sunday’s tornadoes in Lee County and the surrounding areas is devastating,” Shelby said. “Thousands of Alabamians are suffering and in need of our staunch support as they work to rebuild their homes and businesses. It is of the utmost urgency that President Trump support Gov. Ivey’s request for an expedited major disaster declaration for Alabama.”
“Alabamians are certainly a resilient people, but given the severity of the damage from these tornadoes, we will still need help,” Jones said. “I strongly support Gov. Ivey’s request for an expedited major disaster declaration and urge the president to accept this request as soon as possible so that Alabamians can begin to rebuild.”
“My heart breaks for all the folks across the area impacted by this deadly storm,” Rogers said. “After being on the ground in Lee County today to see the damage firsthand, the process to rebuild will take time. I am grateful to President Trump and the Alabama delegation efforts to expedite the major disaster declaration.”
“This is a time of unspeakable heartbreak for many individuals and families in Southeast Alabama, especially those in Lee County,” Roby said. “As our state begins rebuilding in the aftermath of Sunday’s severe weather, I urge President Trump to support Gov. Ivey’s request for an expedited major disaster declaration. In the meantime, my family and I will continue praying for the Alabamians impacted by this devastating event.”
As of press time, 23 people are confirmed dead, including four children. The youngest fatality was age 6 and the oldest was age 89. According to Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones, they are still searching for seven or eight missing people.
Even though meteorologists correctly predicted the storm an hour ahead of impact, too few people heeded the warnings. Because it was a Sunday, more people were at home with their family when the EF-4 tornado touched down in the Beauregard and Smith’s Station communities.
State Rep. Joe Lovvorn, R-Auburn, is an Auburn firefighter. He was on the scene for many hours on Sunday and Monday with the rescue and then recovery efforts.
“The people of Lee County have gone through a tremendous tragedy that most of us can’t fathom,” Lovvorn said.
The White House announced that Trump will travel to Alabama on Friday to personally inspect the damage.