Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Recovery to Preparedness in North Alabama

Nineteen above-ground storm shelters already have been constructed.
Photos courtesy of Lori Feist, North Alabama Conference.

From April 25 to 28, 2011, the U.S. South, Midwest and Northeast experienced one of the severest tornado outbreaks ever recorded. The National Weather Service confirmed a total of 355 tornadoes across 21 states in that time period. Alabama, along with Mississippi, was hardest hit. Lori Feist, disaster recovery volunteer coordinator for the North Alabama Conference, reports on the completed recovery process and next steps.

The recovery effort from the April 2011 tornadoes is complete. We were blessed to receive $2.15 million in grants from UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). That money was used to help fund 191 repairs, 70 rebuilds, and the purchase of 16 mobile homes. More than 274 families were touched during this effort. Many more families were helped by the more than 240 volunteer teams that came in from across the country, serving as the hands and feet of Christ.

As we approached the end of this project, we realized there would be funds remaining. Greg Forrester, assistant general secretary for U.S. Disaster Response for UMCOR, encouraged us to apply for an additional grant to be combined with the remaining funds to start a "Storm Survivor Resiliency Project." We now have enough funds to provide at least 70 storm shelters to families who were affected by the 2011 storms. We are working with "Survive-A-Storm Shelters" from Thomasville, Georgia, to install these above-ground shelters.

Included here are a few photos of some of the first 19 shelters that were installed in the Central and Southwest districts. We placed three in Alberta, one in Cottondale and one in Fosters. Three more were installed in Lamar County and one in Pickens County. Ten have been installed in Walker County. Installation begins soon on 12 shelters in the Northwest District.

We will continue to post pictures as we work our way through the Conference. Please keep all those involved in this work in your prayers as we continue this worthwhile project.

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