published Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

DeKalb County to use grant for tornado-damaged roads

DeKalb County, Ala., has been awarded more than $672,000 for improvements to roads damaged in the April 2011 tornado outbreak that claimed 35 lives there.

"We're going to proceed with it as soon as the weather will allow us to do so," County Commission President Ricky Harcrow said Tuesday.

"This was kind of something we didn't expect," Harcrow said. "We're just happy to get it, and we appreciate the governor's help on it."

Harcrow said the $672,135 grant -- part of more than $30 million in grants that will be awarded in December to 16 Alabama counties and municipalities devastated by the April 2011 tornadoes -- is the second round of funding to help DeKalb and other counties recover from the storms.

About $1.2 million in grant funding awarded about a year ago helped with road work around the Rainsville area, tornado strike areas in the north end of the county and other disaster-stricken communities and residents, he said.

The county's 20 percent funding match -- a little more than $134,000 -- brings the total amount of money targeting roads to $806,561, according to officials.

"Alabamians have worked hard to recover from the impact of the April 2011 tornadoes," Gov. Robert Bentley said in a news release on the grants. "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."

The funds awarded to Alabama are part of a special $49.1 million Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund continued disaster recovery. The funding in some counties will go toward demolition and clearance, multifamily housing, construction of public buildings, road repairs, water and sewer services, drainage improvements and economic revitalization in the affected counties, according to officials. Grant funding also will help with work to minimize potential damage from any future storms in some communities.

"We had to identify the parts that were damaged. It was sporadic, it was half a mile here and half a mile there," Harrow said of applying for the grant.

The roads targeted for repair are in the Rainsville area and the north end of the county near the Georgia line, he said.

"We've got a two-year window to repair what was designated," he said. "We had to give them statistics, and we have to do surveys of the areas that were designated in the project.

"We're going to proceed with it as soon as the weather will allow us to do so," he said. "We just have to put it in motion now."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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