$2.2 million awarded to East Franklin, Phil Campbell

Governor Robert Bentley on Tuesday announced more than $30 million in grants that will be awarded to 16 Alabama counties and municipalities devastated by the April 2011 tornadoes.

As part of this announcement, Franklin County will receive $1.23 million for road improvements in the East Franklin community and the town of Phil Campbell will receive $976,104 for street and sewer improvements as well as paving and demolition projects.

Franklin County Highway Engineer David Palmer said the count’s grant would pay for repairs to certain roads that were severely damaged during the cleanup process following the April 27, 2011 tornado.

“There was an overwhelming amount of damage to the East Franklin community as a result of the April 27 tornado,” Palmer said.

“Because of this, there was a significant amount of debris that had to be cleared, and the heavy trucks and equipment that had to be used during that process damaged several of the roads in that area.”

Palmer said there was over $1 million worth of repairs that needed to be made to these particular roads – money that simply isn’t available in the county highway budget.

“We knew we would need assistance in making these repairs, and we checked with FEMA first, but they don’t offer assistance for secondary damages,” Palmer said.

“Without this grant, we couldn’t have completed all of this work, so this announcement was huge for us and for the East Franklin community.”

Phil Campbell Mayor Steve Bell said a small part of the town’s grant would be used to add some backup generators to the town’s sewer system, but the bulk of the grant will go toward paving and demolition projects.

“We had a lot of problems with our sewer system because of the tornado damage,” Bell said. “We were able to get some funding from FEMA to make these repairs and upgrade our sewer system from a low pressure system to a gravity flow system, but we still needed funds for backup generators for the sewer system.

“The majority of the grant money will be for demolition and paving. We have eight homes that were damaged by the tornado that didn’t get torn down before FEMA pulled out that still need to be demolished.

“There are also several road repairs that need to be made because of damages incurred during the cleanup process.”

Bell said the grant money was necessary for the town to complete these different projects that will keep the town moving in the right direction.

“Many people don’t realize even though we’re a few months shy of the three year anniversary of April 27th, there are still a lot of things we have to accomplish to get our town where it needs to be,” Bell said.

“In addition to these projects, we’ve also just awarded the contract for the new splash pad that is replacing the community pool that was heavily damaged.

“One of the road projects we’ll be completing with this grant is repaving the road leading up to the splash pad, which was in an area of town that was hit hard by the tornado and required a lot of cleanup.

“The heavy trucks damaged some of the roads, so we are thankful to have received these grants and to continue to move forward in our recovery process.

“Everybody is still pulling together, and that’s what Phil Campbell will have to continue to do until where are back where we need to be.”

Franklin County Commission chairman Barry Moore said both grants would be 100 percent funded and require no matching funds from the county or the town of Phil Campbell.

“The people in East Franklin and Phil Campbell have gone through so much since April 27, 2011,” Moore said.

“We are glad that we could secure these grants and we appreciate the work of Gov. Bentley, Rep. Aderholt, Sen. Sessions, and all those with NACOLG who helped make this possible. These grants are very important to our county, and we are very thankful.”

Tuesday’s announcement is part of a special $49.1 million Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to aid continued disaster recovery.

In addition to Franklin County and Phil Campbell, six counties and eight municipalities also received grants.

The funding announced Tuesday will address continuing needs for demolition and clearance, multi-family housing, construction of public buildings, road repairs, water and sewer services, drainage improvements and economic revitalization.

The funding will also help with infrastructure and flood management improvements designed to minimize potential damage from any future storms.

“Alabamians have worked hard to recover from the impact of the April 2011 tornadoes,” Gov. Bentley said.

“We have seen a remarkable spirit of recovery in every area, but there are still effects from the tornadoes that communities need help to address. These grants will help Alabama communities continue the recovery process and become better places to live, work and raise a family.

“I appreciate Alabama’s Congressional delegation for helping to secure funding for the recovery process.”

Alabama will submit an additional plan for projects to be funded with the remaining allocation at a later date.

In June 2011, Governor Bentley named the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) to manage long-term recovery efforts for the state.

“Having experienced tornado devastation within my own city while I was mayor of Prattville, I certainly know how important these grants are to the long-term recovery process for communities impacted by the tornadoes,” ADECA Director Jim Byard, Jr. said.

“Gov. Bentley and I are both committed to providing the necessary resources within our means to help restore normalcy to the areas hit hardest by the tornadoes.”