Hometown Organizing Project helping rural Alabamians impacted by January tornadoes, encouraging Alabamians to help get those affected back on their feet
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Special to the News
More than a month after the deadly January 12 tornadoes ripped through numerous Central Alabama counties, cleanup efforts are ongoing and will be for a long time.
With a goal of continued investment in rural areas facing devastation and destruction from the tornadoes, Hometown Organizing Project has organized a cleanup day for local residents in Equality this Saturday, March 4, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Anyone interested in participating should meet at Rehobeth Methodist Church located at 664 County Road 18 in Equality.
The cleanup day is being organized in response to the January 12 tornadoes that impacted communities across central Alabama.
Residents in 10 counties, including Coosa County, are eligible to apply for individual assistance through FEMA. According to a February 15 press release, FEMA has directed $8.1 million to support disaster recovery in Alabama, but many residents have not yet received aid from official sources.
“It’s been over a month since these tornadoes hit, and much of the cleanup and recovery is only just beginning here in rural Coosa County,” said Justin Vest, executive director of Hometown Organizing Project. “So many of our rural and working class communities are being forgotten in this recovery. A just recovery will require Alabamians to step up and help those who have been impacted by the January tornadoes not only now, but throughout the recovery process which could take years.”
One of the biggest needs in communities impacted by these storms continues to be sorting and removal of debris and clearing downed trees. Varying disaster recovery resources and infrastructure throughout rural communities often leaves each community scrambling to meet a different set of needs, often putting them on very different timelines for recovery.
“In the aftermath of these disasters you see amazing examples of rural resilience as folks come together to repair and rebuild, but also how much these communities are ignored and left behind by the rest of the world, trapping them in an ongoing cycle of recovery,” Warren Tidwell, community resilience organizer with Hometown Organizing Project, said.
Organizers say these storms are the result of an ongoing climate crisis that disproportionately impacts rural, low-income, and Black communities. The January 12 tornadoes are the latest in a growing trend of environmental disasters that have impacted the U.S. in recent months, including severe flooding in California, deadly blizzards in New York, and the toxic train derailment in rural Ohio.
Alabama has seen a number of severe storms over the past decade, including in 2019 when 23 people were killed in the unincorporated community of Beuregard in Lee County.
One of the largest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history occurred on April 27, 2011, when 62 tornadoes killed at least 240 people in Alabama alone. Alabama leads the nation in tornado deaths each year.