Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Holt recovers from storm without city’s help


Although it is a part of the Tuscaloosa County, nearby Holt is an unincorporated area, which means it is self-governed. In Holt’s case, the same authority that governs Tuscaloosa does not run them. Therefore, after the April 27 tornado, their recovery process has not been quite the same.

“It’s different. We are in a rural city,” said Mike Henderson, one of the county engineering coordinators. “It’s an unusual case because it’s heavily urbanized, but it’s also not a part of the city. We have different laws to work with in regards to cleaning up the structures that are still out there. We have an extended amount of time to consider demolition.”

Even with Holt’s special circumstances, they have made great strides toward rebuilding the city.

“The clean up is pretty well complete,” Henderson said. “I think we have four structures where we are in the process of soliciting bids for their demolition. There are a lot of Habitat for Humanity projects going on in Holt, but, from the county’s perspective, the clean up is done, and the individual property owners are now faced with the task of rebuilding.”

Although the city has almost completed their role in the clean up, the Alabama Department of Transportation is responsible for many of the damaged homes that still remain in Holt.

“The Alabama Department of Transportation has been working to build a new bypass, specifically a bridge over the warrior river called the Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant Bridge,” Henderson said. “And after the tornado, they pursued a large number of houses for the project. Many of the houses you still see in Holt actually belong to the state of Alabama, and we have encouraged them to get those demolished and cleaned. However, we technically can’t condemn them on their parcels.”

With the process near completion, Henderson expressed his gratitude toward FEMA and how they made the difference in the recovery.

“FEMA was very responsive,” Henderson said. “They took care of the immediate needs of the citizens. They gave us good sound [advice] on how to proceed and used the core of engineers to organize the clean up. The amount of help was overwhelming. They made things a lot easier.”

Although there is much gratitude from the Holt community toward FEMA, some still think they could have done more.

“FEMA has worked pretty well with us all around from my understanding,” said Frank Sites, the county economic and community development director. “We have been pleased with all of their help with the cleanup. But there is always going to be the feeling that it would have been nice to get a little more reimbursement. But they have treated us very well.”

In addition to the help of FEMA, a completely new program called Clean Sweep was incorporated for the first time in Tuscaloosa County following the tornado. With the program, private property owners could apply and be approved to get the federal government to pay for their clean up. Applicants had to show proof of no other funding or insurance.

Henderson explained that government funding for private property was a completely new occurrence. Throughout the county, there were 382 parcels that were approved to get assistance through Clean Sweep.

“As far as funding is concerned, I believe that FEMA has reimbursed us for most of the clean up,” Tuscaloosa County Commissioner Gary Youngblood said. “The Tuscaloosa County was able to provide enough equipment to take care of many of the problems as far as the clean up. There are things that we are going to try and implement from a lot of group meetings. We’ve been working with a recovery plan.”

There are several projects that have been discussed to build the Holt community back up; however, they have not passed dialogue.

“We are in very preliminary stages, but we hope that in maybe a year or two we can get some money in order to do some sewage expansion,” Sites said. “We don’t have our figures or anything. But it’s something we are looking into.”


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