Federal Help Reaches Alabama Tornado Victims with $14M in Aid
More than three months after the devastating tornadoes tore through central Alabama, over $14.4 million has been disbursed or approved in federal assistance to aid the recovery efforts. Fortunately, there are still available resources for those affected.
Figures from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reveal that grants totaling over $5.7 million have been provided to homeowners and renters, with an additional $1.4 million allocated for various forms of assistance. Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved more than $7.2 million in low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters, and businesses.
This financial aid is targeted at residents of Autauga, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore, Greene, Hale, Morgan, Mobile, Sumter, and Tallapoosa counties, which bore the brunt of the destructive tornadoes, severe weather, and straight-line winds on January 12.
While the deadline to apply for assistance passed on March 16, there are exceptional cases where assistance is still available, according to Issa Mansaray, a FEMA spokesperson. He highlighted that individuals who have received rental assistance and are still renting may be eligible for continued support, as there are still those who remain displaced from their homes.
Furthermore, individuals who have received insurance payments should inform FEMA about these payments. Additional assistance may be available if the insurance coverage falls short of fully compensating for the damages suffered.
It’s important to note that FEMA grants are not loans and do not require repayment. They also do not impact any other federal assistance received, such as VA payments, Medicare, or social security.
While local disaster offices have closed, FEMA continues to operate a main office in Prattville, overseeing the recovery efforts for the region. Mansaray emphasized FEMA’s commitment, stating that they will remain present until the job is done.
To contact FEMA, individuals can visit DisasterAssistance.gov or utilize the FEMA app on smartphones. They can also call 800-621-3322 between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday.
The tornado that struck Autauga County on January 12 was a massive and destructive force, causing seven fatalities and at least 14 injuries. Packing winds of up to 150 mph and stretching nearly a mile wide, the tornado remained on the ground for an hour and a half, wreaking havoc across five counties.
The National Weather Service office in Birmingham conducted a survey of the storm’s path and determined it to be an EF3 twister. Its trajectory spanned 76.67 miles, reaching a width of 1,500 yards at its broadest point. The affected areas included portions of Autauga, Elmore, Coosa, Tallapoosa, and Chambers counties.
The tornado in Autauga County originated from a supercell thunderstorm that formed ahead of a squall line, which also caused an EF2 tornado earlier in Dallas County. Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported in the Selma storm, which had winds of 130 mph and caused significant destruction over a path of 22.72 miles, with a maximum width of 800 yards.
The fatalities in Autauga County occurred in the Old Kingston area, an unincorporated community located approximately 15 miles northwest of Prattville. The impact of the tornadoes left a lasting mark on the region, necessitating ongoing support and assistance for the affected individuals and communities.