County receives $2.5 million
HACKLEBURG – Christmas came early this week for residents in North Alabama who were devastated by last year’s tornadoes.
Gov. Robert Bentley made a visit to Hackleburg on Wednesday to announce over $15.7 million in grants and low interest loans that are being awarded to communities still trying to recover from the destruction left by the tornadoes in April 2011.
Among those named as grant recipients were the town of Phil Campbell, which is receiving a total of $2.45 million, and the East Franklin community, which is receiving $125,000.
Phil Campbell councilman Danny Brown, who also serves as mayor pro-tempore, said the funding the town of Phil Campbell received will go towards repairing problems with the sewer system and the streets as well as economic development to help rebuild the tax base.
“This announcement today that our town will be receiving over $2 million to help us in the recovery process is great news,” Brown said.
“Without this money, we wouldn’t be able to continue with our rebuilding efforts.”
Brown said $1.6 million of the funds Phil Campbell is set to receive is earmarked for sewer and street repairs due to damage received from the 200 mph winds of the E-F5 tornado.
“We’ve had low pressure on our sewer system and that’s something that we’ve really needed to take care of but didn’t have the funding yet to do that,” Brown said.
“This will help us with that project and help out the people who have remained in our town and are rebuilding homes that will utilize our sewer system.”
The other funds will go towards partnerships with Community Action of North Alabama and a $250,000 low interest loan that is earmarked for economic development purposes.
“This is a big step in helping us continue with the projects we already have going,” Brown said. “We appreciate all the governor has done. He’s been there since day one doing all he said he’d do for our town.”
Franklin County Commission chairman and Probate Judge Barry Moore said the $125,000 grant allocated to the East Franklin Community would help build a new fire station that is much needed in that area.
“The fire station they had in East Franklin received some damage in the tornado, and that is a vital service for those residents who live in that area because it’s the only fire service that could respond quickly in an emergency situation,” Moore said.
“This money will help construct a building that will have room enough for offices, and to store all the equipment they need in order to provide the best services possible to our East Franklin residents.”
Moore said the grant money was the only way the county would have been able to have the fire station constructed.
“We appreciate Gov. Bentley’s efforts and the efforts of people like Keith Jones from NACOLG and the staff at ADECA who have worked with us on these grants and helped make this a reality for our community.”
In all, 19 funding awards were given out among nine local governments, including $1.39 million for Cordova, $950,000 for DeKalb County, $125,000 for Franklin County, $4.78 million for Hackleburg, $300,000 for Marion County, $375,000 for Moulton, $2.45 million for Phil Campbell, $3.47 million for Tuscaloosa city and $1.9 million for Tuscaloosa County.
Funding for these grants comes from a special allocation Alabama secured from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) will administer the awards, which include 16 disaster and economic development grants out of HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program and three low-interest loans.
ADECA began efforts to obtain the funding shortly after the storms struck.
“This funding will help make communities whole,” Bentley said.
“The storms were devastating to so many areas. But since the storms, we’ve seen a remarkable spirit of recovery. The recovery is a long-term process, and this funding will make a tremendous difference.”
Bentley told the crowd gathered at the Hackleburg Fire Station on Wednesday that each time he came through the area, he could see progress taking place and that’s what he hoped would continue with the use of the grant funds.
“We’ve got a long ways to go but we will continue to rebuild,” Bentley said.
“It will be a tribute to those who lost their lives that we continue to move forward and make these places even better than they were.”