Fundraiser "Makes its Mark" for tornado victims

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The scenes of destruction in Alabama during the April tornadoes reminded Makers Mark Founder and Chairman Emeritus Bill Samuels, Jr. of the Super Outbreak in 1974.   One of the tornadoes on that day  ripped through his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

'The poor people that happened to be in Alabama experienced what I experienced 40 years ago," Samuels said.  "I saw how easy it is to disrupt family life, school life, church life."

So he came up with the idea of doing a series of fund raisers in Alabama, with the proceeds benefiting the Governor's Relief Fund.

"It gives some latitude to help people, that don't qualify, didn't qualify for FEMA grants, that have a hardship and this money will be used for that," said Mac Gipson, the Administrator for the Alabama Beverage Control Board.

Attendees were able to bid for items in a silent auction, and hand dip their own bottle of Makers Mark.

While the relief fund helps individuals, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs or ADECA, is charged with helping communities recover.

"We're asking these communities exactly what they want in their rebuild, and we are there to assist them," said Jim Byard, Director of ADECA.  "Of course, we are living in difficult times, and we have to temper their expectations."

Byard said the state is looking at federal grants to help communities in that process.  The process has hit a bit of a speed bump as FEMA suspended funding for long-term recovery in Alabama and Missouri among other places to help victims of Hurricane Irene.  But Byard said he doesn't think it will have a long term effect on the recovery here.

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