(by Jason Morton, TuscaloosaNews.com)  TUSCALOOSA — An early estimate [according to Mayor Walt Maddox] puts the cost of cleanup in the city of Tuscaloosa between $75-$100 million. [That’s why City Hall is looking to contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and allow the federal government to oversee – and pay for – the collection and removal of the massive amounts of rubble the tornado left in its wake.

“This means we won’t have to spend money and wait on reimbursements. … They’re going to take that liability,” Maddox said. “For us, that is huge.”

While that means a large portion of the FEMA aid will be re-directed to the Corps of Engineers, it also means that significant, industrial-level clean-up efforts could begin by the end of the week. All that’s left is for the Office of the City Attorney and the Corps of Engineers to finalize the contract.]

Federal and state officials are trying to fast-track the process of getting funds to public agencies and facilitate the recovery process.

Chris Newton with Alabama’s EMA [Emergency Management Agency] told local officials the county is designated for reimbursement for costs stemming from debris removal and disaster response, the lowest rungs of disaster reimbursement. Damage assessments are needed to clear the county for more reimbursements associated with permanent work such as work on roads, water systems, utilities and public buildings. …..


Alabama Power, meanwhile, reported that as of 9 p.m. Monday, about 2,450 customers in Tuscaloosa were without power. A company spokesman said the figure includes homes and businesses that were destroyed or may no longer be habitable.

Electrical power has been restored throughout most of the rest of West Alabama, the spokesman said. Outside of Tuscaloosa, about 400 customers were still without electricity in Alabama Power’s Western Division on Monday night.

The company said Monday evening that it had restored power to 94 percent of 412,229 customers statewide.

It said more than 10,000 people are working on restoring power across the state, with crews coming from Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Alagasco has shut off gas mains in areas of Tuscaloosa that were heavily damaged and said Monday that it expects additional gas leaks will be found as debris clean-up continues.

The utility said Monday afternoon that its crews made multiple sweeps of tornado-damaged areas to check for leaks and to check its facilities.

“There are some complete sections (of natural gas lines and mains) in impacted areas that have been shut off,” the company said in a statement.

Crews are working on ways to bypass storm-impacted areas to restore service to customers occupying homes that are safe and habitable, the company said.

Anyone smelling natural gas or suspecting a leak should call Alagasco’s emergency number at 800-292-4008. Natural gas is colorless and odorless, but utilities add a harmless chemical that has a rotten egg-like smell to make it detectable.

Maddox said the city has again started issuing building permits, and that the state Emergency Management Agency is sending 50 building inspectors to assist the city in analyzing structures.

Garbage collection is expected to resume this week. Pick-up of large debris and other trash, though, is not expected to begin for a while.

The tornado destroyed the offices and equipment of the city’s Environmental Services Department, but crews have managed to piece together eight operable garbage trucks, Maddox said.

Once collection resumes for the non-affected areas, it will occur only once a week. Those on a Monday-Thursday pick-up schedule can take their garbage to the curb with a 50 percent chance of pick-up. Those whose garbage is not picked up Monday will be served on Thursday. The same schedule applies to Tuesday-Friday pickup.

None of the city’s trash trucks could be saved.

Maddox also asked residents in the unaffected areas to bear with the city as it tackles the hardest hit parts of town. These efforts may delay or hamper some services that many have grown accustomed to.

“I believe we’re at the point of turning a corner in Tuscaloosa,” Maddox said. “I think we’re all coming to the realization that this process is going to be difficult.

“We just ask our citizens to be patient.”

Staff Writer Adam Jones contributed to this report.

Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com.

Copyright ©2011, TuscaloosaNews.com.  Reprinted here for educational purposes only.  May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from TuscaloosaNews.com. Visit the website at TuscaloosaNews.com.


Infrastructure is defined as: the basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community or society, such as transportation and communications systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools, post offices, and prisons. (from American Heritage Dictionary at yahoo)

Public services provided by public utilities include: electricity, natural gas, water and sewage. Garbage pickup and telephone services may also be included.

1. List the infrastructure/public service utilities that were damaged by last week’s tornadoes in Tuscaloosa.

2. a) How much does the mayor of Tuscaloosa estimate it will cost just to cleanup the debris in the aftermath of the tornado?
b) Why is Mayor Maddox asking the Army Corps of Engineers to take over to oversee the collection and removal of the rubble created by the tornado?

3. a) Power had been restored to what percent of customers in Alabama by Monday night, 5 days after the tornadoes came through?
b) How many electric workers are working on restoring power across the state? What states have crews come from to assist in restoring power quicker?

4. Why won’t garbage pickup be restored to normal for a while?

5. Watch the news videos under “Resources” below. Consider the destruction done by the tornado in Tuscaloosa. Do you think the mayor’s idea to ask the Army Corps of Engineers to take over the collection and removal of the rubble is a good idea (even though that means a large portion of the FEMA aid money will be re-directed to the Corps of Engineers)? Explain your answer.



  • Tuscaloosa is a city in Tuscaloosa County, in west central Alabama.
  • Located on the Black Warrior River, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with an estimated population of 93,215 in 2009.
  • It is the principal city of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Tuscaloosa, Greene, and Hale counties and whose estimated metro population in 2009 was 210,839.
  • Tornado: On April 27th, 2011, Tuscaloosa was hit by a devastating tornado that resulted in at least 36 deaths, 990 people injured, and massive widespread damage.
  • The tornado was part of the April 25-28, 2011 tornado outbreak.
  • Mayor Walter Maddox said “We have neighborhoods that have been basically removed from the map.”
  • Tuscaloosa is the regional center of industry, commerce, healthcare, and education for the area of west central Alabama known as West Alabama.
  • Tuscaloosa is also the home of the University of Alabama.
  • While the city attracted international attention when Mercedes-Benz announced it would build its first automotive assembly plant in North America in Tuscaloosa County, the university remains the dominant economic and cultural engine in the city. (from wikipedia)

EMA – each state has an EMA (Emergency Management Agency), which coordinates relief effors in a state after a natural disaster. Funding comes from state and federal government.

FEMA -The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security…

  • The primary purpose of FEMA is to coordinate the response to a disaster that has occurred in the U.S. and that overwhelms the resources of local and state authorities.
  • The governor of the state in which the disaster occurs must declare a state of emergency and formally request from the president that FEMA and the federal government respond to the disaster.
  • FEMA also provides these services for territories of the United States, such as Puerto Rico.
  • The only exception is when an emergency and/or disaster occurs on federal property or to a federal asset, for example, the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, or the Space Shuttle Columbia in the 2003 return-flight disaster.
  • While on-the-ground support of disaster recovery efforts is a major part of FEMA’s charter, the agency provides state and local governments with experts in specialized fields and funding for rebuilding efforts and relief funds for infrastructure, in conjunction with the Small Business Administration.
  • FEMA also assists individuals and businesses with low interest loans. In addition to this, FEMA provides funds for training of response personnel throughout the United States and its territories as part of the agency’s preparedness effort. (from wikipedia)


Watch a news report from Tuesday, May 3rd (Note – there is a 30 second commercial prior to the news report):


Watch a before/after news report of aerial views of Tuscaloosa:

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