Tornadoes of 2011 Highlighted Flexibility of Recovery Efforts

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Release date: 
April 19, 2012
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ATLANTA, Ga. -- The relentless and destructive tornado outbreak in April 2011 that caused massive damage, injuries and loss of life across the South resulted in unprecedented response and recovery efforts coordinated by FEMA to every affected state across the region. The storms spawned a record 750 tornadoes. A reported 361 people lost their lives. Six states received major disaster declarations. In the year since, thousands of people have rebuilt their lives and homes, and communities continue recovering and rebuilding.

That rebuilding involves everyone from the affected individuals, community volunteers, local and tribal governments and state and federal officials. Federal assistance alone has totaled nearly a billion dollars for housing and other disaster-related needs of individuals, emergency and permanent repair work for local governments and educational and nonprofit organizations, low-interest disaster loans, and dollars paid to other federal agencies to support the disaster response.

That assistance in the six (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee) of eight states in Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region IV includes:

  • 24,773 disaster survivors were eligible for federal disaster assistance;
  • $118 million to disaster survivors as part of the Individual and Households Program, including:
    • $90.6 million to individuals for housing assistance;
    • Inclusive of that funding, FEMA provided the maximum grant ($30,200) to 1,341 registrants, representing more than $40 million in disaster assistance.
    • $27.7 million to individuals for other disaster-related needs such as medical costs and funeral expenses.
  • More than $321 million of the estimated $338 million total estimated reimbursements has been provided to help local governments and educational and non-profit organizations pay for emergency work and permanent repairs.
  • $160 million in low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  • FEMA has set aside nearly $109 million to help state and local governments implement long-term measures to minimize the impact of future disasters.

Debris was so massive in Alabama that the amount—10 million cubic yards was enough to fill 67,000 18-wheelers. If those trucks were lined up, they would stretch from Mobile to Nashville and halfway back again.

“If we learned anything from last April, it is that we lost too many lives.” said FEMA Region IV Administrator Phil May. “A prepared public is our nation’s most valuable resource in a disaster, and through disaster preparedness we can save lives.”

FEMA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have designated April 22-28 as Severe Weather Preparedness Week to highlight the importance of making severe weather preparedness a national priority.

Visit to learn more.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Last Updated: 
July 19, 2012 - 23:02
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