Wetumpka Declares State of Emergency, Alabama Ranks High in Gun Deaths

Jan 5, 2016

Bibb Graves Bridge, Wetumpka, Ala.
Credit Wikimedia

The city of Wetumpka has declared a state of emergency after heavy rains and flooding around Christmas caused widespread damage.

But officials say the declaration is just a formality to allow the city to work more easily on areas that need the most repairs.

Heavy rain caused the Coosa River in Wetumpka to rise to 45 feet, higher than it’s been in decades. Several roads remain closed; one is affected by a 15-foot-deep sinkhole.

The state of emergency was declared at a Wetumpka City Council meeting last night. Mayor Jerry Willis says the declaration allows Wetumpka to add their damage assessments to those being submitted to FEMA for possible reimbursement. The state has to demonstrate that the rain and flooding caused at least $7 million in damages to receive aid from FEMA.

Director of Public Works Tex Grier says the state of emergency also allows the city to receive money for repairs without going through a bidding process that would normally take months.

A new study says Alabama has one of the highest gun-related death rates in the nation. APR’s MacKenzie Bates has the details.

The new study from the Violence Policy Center puts the Yellowhammer State as the fourth highest gun death rate in the United States.

Almost 50 percent of households in Alabama have guns inside them. The state also has a death rate is 16.81 per 100-thousand deaths. That’s higher than the national average, which was 10.54 per 100-thousand deaths in 2014.

State gun death rates are calculated by dividing the number of gun deaths by the total state population and multiplying the result by 100,000. From there, researchers set the rate per 100,000. That’s the standard and accepted method for comparing fatal levels of gun violence.

While Alabama is one of the top states for gun deaths, it ranks lower than Alaska, Louisiana and Mississippi. Hawaii has the lowest gun death rate.

Now that Christmas is over, residents of Tuscaloosa and Prattville are getting the chance to get rid of their holiday trees and do something good for the environment.

Prattville is holding its sixth annual Christmas tree recycling program all this week. Homeowners can drop off their used trees at the Prattville recycling center on Ridgewood Road. Once the collection period ends on Saturday, the city will grind trees up for landscaping mulch.

Prattville spokeswoman Teresa Lee says there’s an alternative if hauling the tree is too much trouble.

“If they can’t bring it out to our recycling center in Ridgewood Road, we’re asking them to just lay it out at the curb. As our sanitation crews go by, they’re jotting down the addresses and then we’ll have a separate truck that’ll come by and pick those, and take them out to recycling.”

Tuscaloosa residents can drop their trees off at the Curry Environmental Services Facility on Kauloosa Avenue until Sunday. Both cities ask that all ornaments, tinsel, and lights be taken off before you drop your tree off. And the program applies only to natural trees, and not the artificial ones.