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Readout of Secretary Napolitano's Visit to Hackleburg, Alabama

Release Date: 
May 29, 2011

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

HACKLEBURG, Ala.—As part of the Obama administration's ongoing commitment to assisting the long-term recovery efforts of communities affected by recent severe weather, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today joined Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Hackleburg Mayor Douglas Gunnin, Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner, and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Byrne in Hackleburg, Ala. to survey the progress made in response and recovery efforts in the month following the storms and tornadoes that struck the Southeast region this spring. 

“We are proud to be part of a great team of state partners, local governments, faith based groups, survivors, long-term community recovery organizations and volunteers who have worked around the clock to help with response and recovery efforts—and we will not leave until the job is finished,” said Secretary Napolitano.  “The Obama administration remains focused on helping Hackleburg and communities throughout Alabama continue their progress towards rebuilding and recovering to be stronger than before.”

“We are on the road to recovery and we are on it together,” said Congressman Aderholt. “I’m encouraged by the relief efforts that continue on the ground, as well as the coordination between all officials and organizations involved in the recovery process. I know Alabamians strength and resiliency will see us through and Alabama will come back, better than ever.”

In Hackleburg, Secretary Napolitano joined Congressman Aderholt, Mayor Gunnin, a member of the Red Cross of Central Alabama, and other Alabama officials to tour Hackleburg High School to survey damages, discuss recovery efforts, and meet with the Marion County School Superintendent, Hackleburg High School Principal and students who graduated with the high school’s senior class on Friday.

After surveying the damages, Secretary Napolitano visited the Northwest Alabama United Way Volunteer Center where she met with first responders, as well as the survivors and families who have assisted in the community’s recovery efforts over the past month.

Secretary Napolitano also met with community leaders at Hackleburg’s town hall to discuss the ongoing disaster relief efforts and the progress made within the community. On April 27, Alabama received a FEMA Emergency Declaration, and on April 28, President Obama issued a Major Disaster Declaration to help communities recover from the damage inflicted by severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding—qualifying residents for individual assistance and Federal assistance.  As of May 27, 2011, FEMA has opened 28 Disaster Relief Centers across Alabama, including one in Franklin County to support the Hackleburg area.

The entire Obama administration has been deeply involved in response and recovery efforts since the storms first hit. On May 1, Secretary Napolitano joined Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills to survey the damage and the early response and recovery efforts underway in Alabama and Mississippi. On May 26, DHS Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute traveled to Joplin, Missouri to tour the damaged areas and meet with state and local officials and first responders on the ground.  FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino and other senior DHS officials traveled to the Joplin area early last week following the devastating tornadoes on May 22, 2011—working on behalf of President Obama to coordinate the ongoing federal disaster response.  President Obama is also visiting Joplin today to personally survey the damage and discuss response and relief efforts with first responders on the ground.

Families and individuals that have been impacted by the tornadoes and storms, and need assistance have several options for getting help:

  • Registering online at http://www.disasterassistance.gov,
  • Registering through a web-enabled mobile device at  m.fema.gov, or
  • Calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.  The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

For more information, please visit www.fema.gov.

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