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

Bentley addresses needs in community

Gov. Robert Bentley, alongside state senators Richard Shelby, Jeff Sessions and other government officials, toured parts of Alabama Thursday, in an attempt to assess damages caused by an EF4 tornado that devastated much of Alabama on Wednesday night.

“It’s very difficult for anyone who’s not seen this, to come and look at it, and see what devastation has occurred,” Bentley said at a press conference at Midtown Village. “We flew over Birmingham and saw the track of the tornado and as we got into Tuscaloosa; it was devastated.”

Bentley said there were 194 confirmed fatalities statewide, adding that there were still a lot of people injured or still missing since the tornado touched down.

“Early yesterday, when we saw the storms coming, I declared a state of emergency,” Bentley said. “Early in the afternoon, I called out to the National Guard as we began to see the damage.”

Bentley said he requested 500 additional troops to move into Tuscaloosa to help continue with search and rescue purposes.

“However many more we need, we’ll get them here,” he said.

In addition to requesting more troops, Bentley said he is asking the federal government to expedite funds so the state can get money as quickly as possible to help all those who are still hurting.

“We have made the responses we believe we should have made,” Bentley said. “But now we need help from the federal government to expedite the recovery process.”

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said he had the opportunity to fly down from Washington earlier in the day and spent time in a helicopter surveying parts of both Jefferson and Tuscaloosa counties.

“I’ve never seen devastation like this in Alabama,” Shelby said. “My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones and those not yet accounted for. I can say to you that we will carry on and that we will rebuild.”

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell said Alabama residents, despite suffering back-to-back incidents of horrific weather, will all band together to get through their times of need.

Bentley, a Tuscaloosa native, said he wanted to reach out to the parents of UA students, as he can relate to what many of them went through as they tried to find and reach out to their children.

“This is very emotional,” Bentley said. “I have to separate myself emotionally because I’m the governor of the whole state. But this is my home.”

UA President Robert Witt said the University is very actively engaged in assisting the city of Tuscaloosa to recover from the disaster.

“We should consider ourselves blessed that our campus wasn’t hit,” Witt said. “We’re currently making every effort to locate every student, staff and faculty member that has not yet been accounted for.”

“Last night, when reports starting coming in, we knew Alabama was hit hard,” said Craig Fugate, FEMA administrator. “The president made it clear our job is to help the governor and his team. We’re here to fill the gap.”

Bentley said the people of Alabama will make it through the recovery process.

“The people of Alabama are resilient and care about one another,” Bentley said. “We need to keep in our prayers all of those who were injured and those who have lost loved ones.”

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox also spoke of the storm’s devastation.

“Some people designate this as a disaster,” Maddox said. “We would categorize this as a nightmare.”

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