Joe Biden declares storm-devastated central Alabama a disaster area

The roof of a local business is scattered after a tornado swept through Selma, Alabama on Thursday, January 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

president Joe Biden has declared a major disaster in the state of Alabama and ordered federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in areas hit by severe storms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes on January 12, 2023. The President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Dallas and Autauga counties.

“Alabama was admitted for a major disaster declaration in Dallas and Autauga counties following Thursday’s devastating weather. @POTUS and @FEMA have been good partners in our recovery efforts and we are grateful. Alabamaans are resilient people, and we will come back stronger,” the Alabama governor said Kay Ivey announced on Twitter.

“I am grateful that President Biden has heard our calls and expedited the declaration of a major disaster for the state of Alabama after Thursday’s devastating storms,” ​​the congresswoman said Terri Sewell (D-AL07). “This declaration will free up important federal resources to relieve, salvage and rebuild. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Ivey, the Alabama congressional delegation, and state, local and community stakeholders to use these resources as an opportunity to better rebuild Selma and all affected areas for the people of Alabama.”

A powerful tornado landed in Selma, Sewell’s hometown, destroying dozens of homes and businesses Thursday afternoon. Another devastating tornado touchdown followed this tornado in Autauga County, where dozens of homes were destroyed and six people died. Dozens more were injured. Many families became homeless.

Damage assessments will continue in other areas and additional areas may be designated to assist after assessments are fully completed.

federal aid may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property damage, and other programs designed to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. State, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private non-profit organizations also receive federal funding for emergency response in Autauga and Dallas counties on a cost-sharing basis. Finally, federal funds are available on a cost-sharing basis for statewide security measures.

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell named Kevin A. Wallace, Sr. as the federal coordinating officer for federal salvage operations in the affected areas.

Residents and business owners who have suffered losses in the designated areas can begin to apply for assistance or by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or through the FEMA app.

Sewell, Ivey, US Senator Katie Boyd BrittFEMA response experts and other state officials joined local officials as they questioned the site on Friday. The clean-up work is ongoing. It will likely take many months to restore people’s homes, businesses and lives.

To contact the author of this story or to comment, send an email [email protected].