President Obama declared a major disaster in Alabama. Lee County, along with Jefferson, Baldwin, Limestone and Mobile Counties will be receiving federal funding to increase recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms.
The Salem/Crawford Community was impacted by the EF 3 Tornado on April 29, 2014.
More than 200 people have volunteered to help at Crawford Baptist Church to provide food, shelter, and other assistance to families who lost their homes in the storm.
Affected individuals can receive the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA to get into the system and begin their process.
"It doesn't help if you call us or other places," Kathy Carson, the director of Lee County Emergency Management Agency said. "Individuals affected by the storm in Lee County or other four Alabama counties must call the 1-800-621-FEMA number. Otherwise, they can't get the help they need."
Affected individuals will need to give following information to register: full name of the applicant, complete address and phone number, and photos of the damage/destruction.
Federal teams will arrive at Lee County and other counties to establish a Disaster Recovery Center where they will provide grants and low-cost loans to help victims with temporary housing, cover uninsured property losses and more during the week of May 5, 2014.
"I know we live in an amazing community whenever I see hundreds of volunteers help us clean up the disaster sites," Carson said. "When the FEMA assistance kicks in, the volunteers might not have to work as hard. Federal teams will help speed the recovery process."
"I am so proud of both the Lee County EMA and Russell County EMA for working together," Carson said. "They really did this together. I am thrilled for the declaration since we can help the victims get back on their feet faster. Governor Bentley applied for presidential declaration of disaster, and he applied for expedited declaration to receive federal assistance."
Carson said the storm brought devastating changes to Lee County.
"We had 51 homes that were destroyed," Carson said. "An additional 50 houses had major damages. We had 13 injuries and 140 households were impacted by the storm. This is just terrible. However, when the FEMA assistance kicks in, we will be able to generate jobs for some people, because we will need workers to re-build the houses. I can only imagine how hard losing homes might be to some of our affected individuals. However, help is on the way."
Pastor Steve Williamson with Crawford Baptist Church said volunteers have been working from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. since Tuesday to provide meals, clothes and other assistance to those in need.
"People have been very generous," Pastor Williamson said. "They stop by our church and drop off items people can use. However, we have more than enough clothes. Things we need now are cleanup donations like gloves, shovels, boxes, trash bags, rakes… I appreciate everyone's help and concern to help our neighbors during their difficult time."
A Disaster Recovery Center will be established the week of May 5. The location of the DRC has not been determined yet. In the meantime, volunteers and affected individuals can stop by Crawford Baptist Church to provide assistance or to receive help. The 211 lines are also available for those who have immediate needs.
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