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

    Maddox updates residents

    Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said Friday has been, by far, the most difficult logistical day at the city.

    “I can’t put into words the amount of destruction,” Maddox said. “The tornado traveled along a 5.9 miles path, with anywhere between one half and one mile width of destruction. There is no easy path out. There is no easy solution.”

    Maddox said a possible 6,000 people were in the direct path of the tornado when it tore through Tuscaloosa on Wednesday, and an additional 13,471 people had the potential to be within its dangerous areas.

    “It’s amazing that anyone survived this,” Maddox said

    At last count, there were 45 confirmed fatalities, 990 injuries and 446 people who are unaccounted for, although Maddox said the last number may not be completely valid because some requests have been for the same person.

    “The number of those unaccounted for, although we’re unsure of its accuracy, give us a sense of what we’re facing,” he said. “We going to check each one and hope to get a more accurate number within the next 48 hours. I find it unlikely that we have that many missing.”

    Since Wednesday evening, Maddox said search and rescue has been the city’s primary focus, and it will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

    “We had two cadaver teams walking around in some of the hardest hit areas today, including Rosedale, and, thankfully, they’ve been negative,” he said. “I’ve requested two more cadaver teams as well. We’re having slow results because were dealing with rubble. This is a slow, painful and arduous task.”

    In addition to the extra cadaver teams, Maddox said he also requested 500 more members of the National Guard to come to Tuscaloosa, a request approved by Gov. Robert Bentley.

    Maddox said last night’s curfew went well, and announced his intentions to enforce curfew in the impacted areas beginning at 8 p.m. tonight.

    “We’re doing this to ensure that we maintain law and order and to help us continue our search and rescue efforts,” he said. “If you have no reason to attend the affected areas, please stay out of them. Your presence as a site-seer does nothing but hinder progress.”

    Maddox warned that law enforcement officers or the National Guard would likely stop those caught in affected areas.

    Additionally, Maddox said state Attorney General Luther Strange, who was in Tuscaloosa today, has pledged to prosecute all looters, as well as any businesses the city believes is price gauging.

    “This is neither the time nor the place to take advantage of citizen’s hurting beyond imagination,” Maddox said.

    To those living in severely damaged areas which remain blocked off by law enforcement officials, Maddox said the city was walking a tightrope its decision making process.

    “There’s no good way to do this,” he said. “We must continue to provide safety and security to the effected neighborhoods that result, too often, in looters, at times like these. We have law enforcement officials from other cities out there, the National Guard, a lot gets lost in translation.”

    Although Wednesday’s tornado damaged the Red Cross, Salvation Army and EMA offices in Tuscaloosa, Maddox said his heart has been strengthened by the countless number of people who have wanted to give back to their community.

    Maddox said those interested in volunteering should call the city’s humanitarian line at 248-5045, and those who can help with free private property debris removal should call 248-5800.

    In addition to community volunteers, Maddox said he also requested the creation of an 8-man volunteer network team to strategically place resources across Tuscaloosa, a request he said was granted.

    Maddox did say there was good news regarding the water situation throughout the city.

    “We’re gaining capacity in the VA and Crescent Ridge tanks,” he said. “We’re doing lots of testing to ensure its safety. If we continue the process, I’m hoping we can ease the usage guidelines and, eventually, take the ‘boil water alert’ off.”

    After spending the morning with President Barack Obama as he surveyed the city’s damage, Maddox said was struck by the president’s seriousness and his understanding and guidance.

    “I can’t begin to tell you how much the city and those affected by the tornado appreciate the president being here today,” he said. “The kind of commitment he showed helped us all see that there is a path out of this.”

    Maddox thanked all those who have shown interest in donating financially, and told those and others interested in donating to contact 758-7588.

    Finally, Maddox said the city is facing a humanitarian crisis because of the thousands of people without homes.  He urged those who have lost their homes to call 1-800-621-3362.

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