HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan pledges to rebuild tornado ravaged Alabama ‘better and stronger’


Touring Rosedale Court are (front row) U. S Congresswoman Terri Sewell and U. S. Senator Richard Shelby. In the second row are Jim Bayard, State of Alabama HUD Director and Shaun Donovan, HUD Secretary

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

Standing on the ruins of Rosedale Courts, public housing project in Tuscaloosa, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, pledged to rebuild Tuscaloosa and other storm affected communities in the state “better and stronger than they were before the tornados on April 15 and 27.
At a press conference after a tour of the devastation where 100 out of 188 units were destroyed and 11 people died, Donovan joined by other political leaders said over $12 million dollars in HUD Community Development Block Grant funds could be used in a flexible way to respond to the needs to rebuild community facilities and the basic housing stock in the state.
Donovan said funds were available to the state and municipalities from the Section 108 loan program against future CDBG funding. There is also emergency housing assistance from FEMA and mobile homes which will be brought in by state and Federal emergency management officials to house persons temporarily for up to 18 months whose homes were totaled by the fierce tornados.
When pressed by this reporter, Secretary Donovan said, “the government is concerned about every person and family in the area; those that live in cities like Tuscaloosa and also those who live in the surrounding rural communities, like Sawyerville, Tishabee Snoddy, Vienna, Lisman.
Mayor Maddox of Tuscaloosa said that the state and Federal government needed to be commended for coming together rapidly to work on solutions. Senator Richard Shelby said, “ you will be judged in this tornado relief effort by what you do. We welcome your presence and that of President Obama. We hope these visits will serve the purpose and help stir things up in the bureaucracy to get assistance to the people of Alabama.”
Congresswoman Terri Sewell, whose district from Birmingham to the Black Belt has been impacted by the tornados said “ I am inspired by the generosity of people helping people in the aftermath of these storms. I promise you that the low income and rural people of the district will not be forgotten.”
Ralph Paige from the Federation of Southern Cooperatives said, “ reflecting on Hurricane Katrina, we still have 400 people in south Mobile County that qualified for CDBG housing assistance but have never received it and are still waiting for it. I hope people in Tuscaloosa and the Black Belt will receive the assistance they need on a timely basis to rebuild their homes. We may need to ask Congress for special funding to cover these disaster needs.”
At the press conference, FEMA reported that 45,000 people had registered statewide to get assistance; 12,000 home inspections have been carried out; 300 displaced people are still living in shelters, while the rest have moved in with relatives, friends or neighbors; and some are living in hotels.

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