Natural disaster preparedness bills head to Congress

Local News
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WIAT) — Alabama ranks in the top 10 when it comes to the worst natural disaster states according to Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings. Earlier this year the people of Lee County felt the impact of natural disasters. Wednesday, emergency management officials from across the state met for their annual Preparedness Conference.

The conference is a way for EMA leaders to discuss best practices and exchange ideas.

The people of Lee County are still feeling the effects of the deadly tornadoes that killed 23 people back in March.

“There are scars on this community and throughout Lee County that can never be fixed, they can never be repaired,” Kathy Carson said.

Lee County’s EMA director says they aren’t just sitting around waiting for the federal government to come in.

“It’s a community effort, it’s the only way for this to happen because FEMA can’t come in and replace everything,” Carson said.

Governor Kay Ivey spoke to the group about the importance of being ready with disaster strikes in Alabama.

“Failure to plan is planning to fail and we need to be prepared in times of disaster,” Gov. Kay Ivey said.

Last week president Trump signed the 2019 Disaster Relief Act into law, which could be good news for those Alabamians that were hit the hardest. 

Senator Doug Jones has two bills in Congress related to disaster preparedness. The BE SAFE ACT of 2019 would establish a new grant program through the U.S. Department of Transportation that would award up to $100 million for projects to improve emergency evacuation routes in small and rural communities.

Senator Jones is trying to get this bill passed as part of the broader Surface Transportation bill the Senate is working on.

The Storm Shelter Act would create a one-time refundable tax credit of up to $2,500 for homeowners to build or purchase a storm shelter at their primary residence. Senator Jones is hoping that Senator McConnell brings this bill to a vote as soon as possible.

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