As part of the Obama administration’s response to the wave of storms that devastated Alabama at the end of April, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Tuesday, June 7, surveyed the damage and announced an initial $1.5 million in quick release emergency funds immediately available to the state to pay for emergency repairs to highways.
LaHood’s visit followed visits by President Obama, Federal Emergency Management Administrator Craig Fugate, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills and others from the administration. LaHood was joined by U.S. Reps. Spencer Bachus and Terri Sewell, Birmingham Mayor William Bell, Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper and Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez.
“The Obama administration is committed to helping Alabama recover from the terrible storms that swept this state,” said LaHood. “This $1.5 million, which is a part of the administration’s all-hands-on-deck response to this tragedy, will help the state restore its roads and bridges. As President Obama has said, we will be here to support you no matter how long it takes.”
The storms that hit Alabama on April 27 swept across the northern portion of the state in 42 counties with tornadoes cutting huge paths as much as a mile wide. “Alabamans are being tested like many across the country who have suffered through unimaginable weather events,” Mendez said. “These funds will help the state address the initial destruction.”
Quick release emergency funds provided by FHWA will reimburse the state for early repairs made following the storms, including debris removal, sign replacement and traffic signal repairs. Alabama continues to clean up and perform repairs as damage assessments continue. It is anticipated that the cost of repairs will exceed $10 million.
FHWA’s emergency relief program provides funds for the repair or reconstruction of roads and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events. Mendez added that the program was bracing for additional funding requests from states across the country this year that have been battered by extreme weather events.