MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Some Alabamians saw their homes and cars destroyed by this spring’s tornadoes and floods while others saw their jobs or businesses demolished.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is helping put the state’s economy back on track, not only by providing financial assistance to families and state and local governments, but also by hiring Alabama residents to help with the recovery efforts and spending money in the local economy.
The agency has hired 18 Alabamians in various positions around the state, according to Federal Coordinating Officer Albie Lewis, the head of FEMA’s recovery mission in Alabama.
“The positions are short-term temporary jobs working in numerous areas of the recovery operation but they are critical to our efforts and to helping the state get back on its feet,” Lewis said. “We take our responsibility to hire local people very seriously and we’re delighted with the quality of employees we’ve found.”
Alabamians have been hired to perform tasks that include performing administrative duties, serving as information technology specialists and couriers, and even assisting with media relations.
In addition, FEMA has roughly 230 personnel working around the state, most of them at the agency’s Joint Field Office in Montgomery where they share offices with U.S. Small Business Administration and state workers.
“This is the equivalent of a medium-sized business locating here in our downtown,” said Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange. “The impact on local businesses can’t be understated. It’s a huge boost to our economy.”
“We really want to put local people to work, not only to help Alabama’s economy but to take advantage of their knowledge of the communities in which we are operating,” said Alabama State Coordinating Officer Jeff Byard.
The Montgomery Joint Field Office has already signed contracts with local businesses for more than $500,000 worth of goods and services, as well as purchasing roughly another $48,000 more with cash or charge cards.
“We not only purchase supplies and services from local businesses but our staff rents cars, stays in hotels, shops in stores and eats in local restaurants. They have their families come to visit them,” said Albee. “That adds up to a tremendous economic impact.”
FEMA personnel have been in Alabama since late April and are expected to remain in the state until late summer, though the number of people will be declining as work is completed.