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FEMA: Alabama tornado victims need to register for help

Severe Weather Tornado
Vasha Hunt/AP
FR171624 AP
Stephanie Howard, left, picks up a free meal and house supplies, provided by Brown Chapel in Selma, Ala., as the city and its residents recover from a massive tornado several days earlier, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

The clock is ticking for Alabama residents hit hard by last week’s tornado. Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency toured the city of Selma as well as Dallas and Autauga Counties this week. They’re advising property owners to register with FEMA as soon as they can. Kevin Wallace is the agency’s coordinating officer for Alabama. He says there’s a sixty-day window to apply at FEMA’s website or APP, or at temporary disaster offices.

“The important we need to know and we need to reiterate is that the process starts by registration,” said Wallace. “So, please everyone register. You can register through the phone number, our folks going door to door, or you can go to the DRC’s once they’re open. But, again is all starts with registration

The D-R-C’s are disaster recovery centers that are in the process of being opened. APR is collaborating with the Selma Sun Newspaper as this historic city recovers from last week’s violent weather. The tornado killed at least seven people in neighboring Autauga County before heading into Georgia. Jeff Smitherman is with Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency. He says Alabama’s relationship with FEMA is a good thing and a bad one…

“And may wonder why it’s both good and bad,” he observed. “It’s really good because I know most of the team that’s here, and I’vbe worked with them before. But, it’s bad because of what the state has had to go through in order for them to be here. So, welcome to FEMA to this effort.”

The sixty day time limit for Alabamians to register for help from FEMA started ticking on the day President Biden declared a state of emergency. That was on January 15th. APR is collaborating with the Selma Sun Newspaper as this historic city recovers from last week’s violent weather. Many thanks to our friends there, and at Black Belt News Network for their help on this coverage.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
Alabama Public Radio is proud to collaborate with the Selma Sun and its publishers Cindy Fisher, Brad Fisher, and Debrah Fisher. Past stories have included the renovation of the St James Hotel, the rescue of historic homes in Selma, and the announcement of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act by Congresswoman Terri Sewell at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge
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