Today is a day that Alabamians will never forget.
One year ago we lost nearly 250 people as tornadoes tore through our state destroying homes and businesses, disrupting communities, and affecting more than 65 percent of the people living in the state. It was hard to grasp the loss of life and the destruction caused by these fierce storms as we visited community after community.
This past year has been an incredible testament to the resiliency of the people and communities in Alabama. Under the leadership of Gov. Robert Bentley we’re still recovering—and will be for a while—but every day there is progress. In addition to our federal partners that have helped Alabama, we would not be where we are without the many first responders, volunteers and state agencies who have worked tirelessly since the storm to support all the survivors who are determined to recover from one of the worst disasters we’ve ever seen.
I am most proud of the way Alabamians are building back stronger. Six months following the storms more than 4,300 applications were submitted for individual safe rooms and an additional 400 were submitted for community safe rooms. The mitigation staff has been working virtually non-stop to review, process and submit the applications for final approval.
We’ve learned a lot about how critical it is to be prepared. There are countless examples of families who are alive today because they heeded the warnings last year. Those stories are truly inspiring. I encourage others to get prepared before the next severe storm approaches. Simple steps such as knowing the location of safe shelter, putting together an emergency supply kit and making a family communications plan today may save your life tomorrow.
Today, I ask Alabamians to honor the lives lost in last year’s storms and celebrate the journey of the survivors by making sure our friends, families and neighbors are prepared for severe weather. We must take this seriously—to save lives from future storms. We don’t know when the next storm will come, but we must plan now to be ready.