Sheffield native Evelyn “Evie” Mauldin, a member of the state-led Tornado Recovery Action Council, or TRAC, created by Gov. Robert Bentley after the April 27 storm, said being a part of the group has affected her personally.
“It let me know that being prepared for a natural disaster beforehand and seeking appropriate shelter can make the difference between life and death,” said Mauldin, senior vice president and general counsel of Bank Independent.
TRAC had seven forums across the state in affected communities, including one in Hackleburg, to solicit information about how to improve tornado alert and response systems. Members of TRAC are compiling data and will make recommendations to Bentley in January.
Mauldin described seeing the tornado’s path in Hackleburg for the first time as if she were seeing a place where a “bomb had gone off.”
“When I went down to the community forum for Phil Campbell and Hackleburg, I was overwhelmed by the vastness and total destruction and devastation (that area faced after) the tornadoes of April 27,” she said. “After I saw the very large area that had everything, and I mean everything, wiped out, I understood how powerful and devastating a category five tornado can be.”
Mauldin said she was moved by how the people of Alabama responded to each other’s needs in the aftermath of the storm.
“It makes you feel good about people — they weren’t trying to save their own skin,” she said. “People are a lot less selfish than you might think. They did what they had to do to protect themselves, then went and helped someone else. There were people looking for people.”
TRAC Deputy Director R.B. Walker said the council didn’t hear from people who wanted handouts.
“What we’re hearing primarily is, ‘I want to go back to work. I want to provide for my family. I want to rebuild,’ ” he said. “I think that says an awful lot about the people of this state, and I think it’s going to provide a unique road map for recovery.”
He said TRAC is not just another government study.
“We’ve been very deliberate in the style of recommendations that we are putting together,” Walker said. “We are weighing all considerations, and we have no intentions of this report gathering dust. This is hopefully going to be an instruction manual for people that will be in charge of carrying out these recommendations for years to come.”
Mauldin said though no firm recommendations will be made to Bentley until Jan. 15, she’s already made some life changes as a result of being a member of TRAC.
“The next time I hear that a tornado is bearing down on an area in which I am located, I will definitely make a beeline to an appropriate shelter,” she said.
Hannah Mask can be reached at 256-740-5728 or hannah.mask@TimesDaily.com. Click here to see the original story.