LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Tuesday marks six months since a string of deadly tornadoes ripped through Lee County. On March 3rd, 23 people died when an EF-4 tornado tore through Beauregard and Smith Station, dozens of others were injured. Those communities are still working to rebuild.
In the wake of that storm, East Alabama Medical Center formed an organization called MEND, a program that brings together local service organizations, churches, national and state organizations.. to coordinate donations, volunteers, and support for those who need it.
In the last six months, MEND has provided temporary housing for 25 families. Eleven families are currently awaiting their new homes. MEND has coordinated efforts with the Chattahoochee Fuller Center and Samaritan’s Purse to provide a total of 18 newly constructed home by the middle of October, and 12 new mobile homes.
The program has also helped 65 families with clean up debris the storm left behind.
Coincidentally, Gov. Kay Ivey has declared this week Resiliency Week in Alabama, to celebrate our continuous effort to create a resilient state against natural disasters.
According to the Department of Insurance, Alabama leads the nation in building and mitigating the most wind-resistant homes in the nation built to the Institute for Business and Home Safety’s FortifiedTM standard. This standard uses a scientific approach to designing new homes and retrofitting existing homes with a scientifically, approached solution to minimizing the negative effects wind has on a structure such as a home.
Alabama has more than 11,500 homes built to the FortifiedTM standard. More than 1,100 of those homes were FortifiedTM through the Strength Alabama Homes program, a division of the Alabama Department of Insurance. The program awards homeowners grants up to $10,000 for improvements that make their homes more resilient to storms.
The more resilient communities are to natural disasters, the more lives are saved and less money is spent to recover from those disasters, diminishing the impact storms have on communities.
Every $1 spent on protecting communities from natural disasters provides a $6 return in future benefit, as residents are able to return to work and school sooner, spending less time and money rebuilding. Businesses reopen quicker, payrolls can proceed and local economies stay strong.