published Friday, September 7th, 2012

Alabama gets money to help tornado victims rebuild

  • photo
    Sontonia Stephens of the Community Services Program of West Alabama talks with reporters about a new disaster relief fund for tornado victims during a news conference in Montgomery, Ala., Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012. The fund was announced Thursday by the Alabama Dept. of Economic and Community Affairs and makes $6-8 million available for owners of single family homes that were affected by the April 2011 tornadoes that struck north and central Alabama.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

HOW TO APPLY

Residents of Jackson and DeKalb counties whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the April 2011 tornadoes should contact the Alabama Rural Coalition for the Homeless at 1-888-421-1266 for applications and further assistance.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama has up to $8 million to help families still trying to repair or replace homes destroyed by the deadly tornadoes in April 2011.

The director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, Jim Byard, said Thursday the money is from a federal grant. Owners of single-family homes in 30 counties affected by the storms on April 15 and April 27, 2011, can receive up to $25,000 each.

"Although it has been nearly a year and a half since these storms struck, many Alabamians are still hurting and need help," Byard said.

Sontonia Stephens, director of supportive services for the Community Services Programs of West Alabama, said the money is needed because some people didn't access aid that was available immediately after the storms. She said some were still in shock from losing family members or they lacked the education needed to fill out the forms.

She said her group is working with churches and other groups to make sure people find out about the new aid and have help preparing the application forms.

Jack Green, chief outcome officer with the Community Action Partnership of North Alabama, said the new aid will help homeowners who didn't apply for assistance immediately after the tornadoes because they had homeowner's insurance, but later they found out they were underinsured for today's building costs.

Byard said some families that lost their homes have enough income to make monthly mortgage payments on a new home, but they need help with the down payment, which the grant can provide.

The April tornadoes killed more than 250 people in Alabama and destroyed 6,237 houses and 1,275 mobile homes, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Alabama has received $10 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for housing. Byard said $6 million to $8 million will be available to owners of single-family homes. The remaining money will be used for multifamily housing.

He said the priorities for funding are low-income residents, the elderly and disabled, households with children, and displaced persons.

Residents of Cherokee, Madison, Marshall and Etowah counties should contact the Alabama Rural Coalition for the Homeless for assistance.

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