Monday afternoon Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-7) presented the Alabama Emergency Management Agency with a check for just over a half million dollars. The funds will go to the construction of four new community storm shelters in Hale County.

On hand to receive the federal grant money were Hale County Probate Judge Arthur Crawford, Sr., Greensboro Mayor Johnnie B. Washington, Akron Mayor Jonathan Rossell, Hale County Emergency Management Agency Director Russell Weeden and Alabama Emergency Management Agency External Affairs Director Greg Robinson.

The shelters will be placed in Akron, Greensboro, Moundville and Sawyerville. Currently the county only has one shelter. It is located in the small community of Newbern and only has a capacity of 50.

ME TV FM 97.5 logo
Get our free mobile app

"To be able to deliver a check for $511,601 to Alabama's EMA on behalf of Hale County to create the storm shelters that are so needed all across Hale County is exciting," Rep. Sewell told presentation attendees. "This is truly an example of government working for the people."

Sewell pointed to the devastating storms that raked across West Alabama on January 12th of this year as proof of the urgent need for community preparedness.  That day tornadoes left destruction in Greene, Hale, Perry and Sumter Counties and several other counties across the state, including her hometown of Selma.

"Severe weather has wreaked havoc across the Black Belt and taken lives in our rural communities such as here in Hale County." Sewell told the small gathering on the site of the future Greensboro shelter on property owned by the Hale County School Board.

Sewell added that storm shelters are one of the best methods for preventing death and injuries and that more are needed.

Between 1950 and 2021 Hale County officially recorded 41 tornadoes according to the National weather Service Alabama Tornado Database. In 2022 there were five tornado touchdowns in the county verified by National Weather Service survey teams. This year six tornadoes have been confirmed in Hale County.

Hale County EMA Director Russell Weeden praised Rep. Sewel for how fast the grants were made available after initial application. He said the county is working with the congresswoman's office to fund two more shelters that were part of the original request but have not yet been approved by Washington.