Recommendations call for new standards for preparedness, incentives for economic recovery
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – January 24, 2012 – Today, the Tornado Recovery Action Council of Alabama (TRAC), officially released its comprehensive report about the devastating April 2011 tornados to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley. The backdrop for the handoff was a painfully familiar scene of destruction in northeast Jefferson County only a few miles from neighborhoods that were destroyed nine months ago.
TRAC was appointed by Governor Bentley in August to study the tragic events of April 2011 and develop recommendations to help Alabama better prepare and respond to future natural disasters. The 19-member council had planned a hand-off of the report for Monday, January 23, the same day tornadoes struck again across central Alabama.
Governor Bentley said TRAC could not delay the delivery of the report and that he plans to act immediately to implement some of the recommendations. To read the full report on the April storms and view the 20 specific recommendations authored by TRAC, download the report at www.TRACalabama.org.
“The storms that hit central Alabama early Monday morning painfully and vividly remind us again that our state and its citizens must remain vigilant in improving how we prepare for and respond to severe weather,” said TRAC Executive Director Ron Gray. “There were many things we got right – as individuals, as communities and as a state in the wake of the April 2011 storms, but the lives lost and people injured this week reinforce our commitment to learning from the past to save lives in the future.”
The Tornado Recovery Action Council and its team of writers and researchers studied every aspect of the storms and the damage they left behind. TRAC gathered citizen input by hosting seven community forums in tornado-stricken areas of the state as well as collecting stories and ideas through its website and social media. Writers and researchers also met with weather experts, local and state government officials, nonprofit leaders, response coordinators and building officials.
Pam Siddall, President and Publisher of Birmingham News Multimedia, and Johnny Johns, President and CEO of Protective Life lead the effort as council co-chairs appointed by the Governor.
Siddall and Johns shared with the Governor, “Individually and collectively, we believe these recommendations can be implemented to create a stronger state for future generations, and it is clear we must act with urgency. We also believe these recommendations can help guide other states so that we can prevent the loss of lives not just here in Alabama but across the country.”
TRAC’s recommendations address critical issues including storm shelters and safe rooms, fortification standards, power continuity, education and awareness, integrated storm alerts, atmospheric research, emergency management training, radio communications, healthcare, volunteer coordination, housing recovery and economic recovery. Recommendations are structured so that state and regional leaders, in addition to public and private organizations, can take clear steps to better prepare for future natural disasters.
The Tornado Recovery Action Council’s report is divided into four chapters: Prepare, Warn, Respond and Recover. Personal stories collected from community forums are weaved into the narrative recounting the tragic events that took 248 precious lives and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses. To download and read the report, visit www.TRACalabama.org.