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

Neighborhoods plan next move after storm


Forest Lake

By Sarah Massey

For residents of Forest Lake, the recovery over the last three months since the tornado has largely been focused on cleanup and planning for the future of the neighborhood.

Christine Dietsch, president of the Forest Lake Neighborhood Association, said there is a focus on keeping residents informed of what is going on in the larger planning process of the city and with Tuscaloosa Forward, as well as providing venues for residents to interact with city officials and those who will have an impact on the future of the neighborhood.

Dietsch said there have been “mixed reviews” by residents toward the plan put out by Tuscaloosa Forward because “there’s a level of uncertainty.” Many residents are concerned about what the future of Forest Lake will look like – unsure about what the surrounding area will be if they choose to rebuild now.

“Right now, the current focus is making it possible, and as easy as possible, for people who are in the process of rebuilding,” she said. “… Most people want to be able to know that if they rebuild, the empty lot next to them is not going to be a high-rise apartment building – of course that’s an exaggeration.”

Heather McCullar, a five-year resident of Forest Lake, is planning on staying in the neighborhood and said that she hopes Forest Lake remains primarily a residential area. She said that much of the focus of cleanup in the neighborhood has been tearing down houses and clearing lots so rebuilding can begin. She said there appear to be more residents staying than leaving and that morale is good.

“I think they’re frustrated with not being home, but I think they’re happy,” she said.

“People do want to come back,” Dietsch said. “People are pretty adamant about ‘I want to come back, I want to stay here, and I have a stake in this.’”

She stressed the importance of addressing people’s concerns within the neighborhood and providing people with as much information as possible throughout the rebuilding process. One venue where concerns will be expressed and information exchanged is at the Forest Lake annual meeting on Aug. 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the Forest Lake United Methodist Church. City officials will be present.

“I think that Forest Lake is so critical to the life of the city of Tuscaloosa that a lot of focus will be on Forest Lake,” Dietsch said. “… I see the character of Forest Lake remaining primarily residential, but I also think that there’s a lot of room for innovation, successful innovation that can serve as a model for what can happen in Tuscaloosa for the future.”


By Ashley Chaffin

The Rosedale community was directly in the path of the April 27 tornado as it pummeled through Tuscaloosa, taking almost everything with it. After the tornado had passed, what was left of the brick housing community was almost unrecognizable, except for a few walls left standing.

Now, three months after that devastating day, it is hard to tell that there used to be families living in the spot of open land on 10th Street.

In the first month after the tornado, the city put up a fence around the destruction, and it looked as if the rubble was going to stay exactly where it was. That was until bulldozers showed up and cleared the land.

For the residents that used to live in that area, the only thing left to do is wait for the city to pass plans for how to rebuild. According to Mayor Walt Maddox, the housing community will eventually end up exactly where it used to stand.

“I spoke to Secretary Donovan last Friday at length, and we discussed what Rosedale will look like, the money that is going to be available,” Maddox said. “And we’re working with Senator Shelby’s office so that when we redo, hopefully we can redo it in one project and it can look even better than what we have at McKenzie Court.”

Even after the plan is passed, it could take a while for Rosedale to be rebuilt and lived in again. Maddox said the rebuilding process is not something that will just happen overnight.

Cedar Crest

By Jasmine Cannon

When the tornado pummeled down 15thStreet on April 27, much of the Cedar Crest community was hit and damaged. Now the area is in its cleaning up and rebuilding phase.

Melissa Powell, along with her daughter Meghan and husband Richard, who works for the University, received damage to the back of their house, while the front remained untouched. Powell recalls large amounts of glass and gravel from the surrounding buildings being in her backyard. They have been working to repair the damages sustained by their home.

“It’s been a stressful three months, and everything has changed, but also now we should be excited about the changes,” said Powell, who has lived in the neighborhood for 14 years. “The city’s come out with a new city plan, so this is going to be like a village neighborhood; it’s going to be mixed with some residential and some retail.”

There were some houses in the neighborhood that were left without a scratch. Others received slight damage, and some residents are in the process of rebuilding their homes from the ground up. Powell said she thinks the area will be rebuilt as a residence and business establishment community. Some of the businesses that were located on the outskirts of Cedar Crest include Express Oil Change and Krispy Kreme Donuts.

“It’s good to see people building back, and now I’m just anticipating seeing what’s going to become of our neighborhood,” Powell said.

Some of the houses in Cedar Crest are rented and lived in by students. Cedar Crest Apartments, which also housed fellow UA students, was one of the landmarks of the community that was ruined.

Construction and clean-up crews have been working to clear away the area where the apartments once stood, as well as areas outside of Cedar Crest.

“After they tear it down, we pick it up,” said Marcus Jones, one of the members of the crew. “It’s a good thing that people are trying to [get the city back together].”

Once crews clean up the areas, rebuilding can begin.

According to the new Tuscaloosa Forward plan, there will be changes such as improved bicycle and walk lanes, as well as a greater variety of retail establishments in and around Cedar Crest as it is rebuilt.


By Sarah Massey

In Alberta City, there are blocks in neighborhoods where you can see the Piggly Wiggly that was once obstructed by trees and Alberta Elementary. Like much of Tuscaloosa, debris is still visible three months after the tornado, but slowly, it’s being picked up.

Leander Jones, the pastor of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in Alberta, said much of the focus has been on removal of debris, the demolition of damaged houses and “clearing the landscape of all the unsightly reminders of the storm.” With the recovery process underway, it signifies the preparation for the plan for Alberta.

Although Jones said he sees some positives in the plan for Tuscaloosa, such as the village centers, he wishes that the development of the plan would have been approached differently, as he does not know of many Alberta citizens involved in the planning process.

“Before the plan was rolled out, I would have liked to have seen a greater effort to involve the individual communities themselves as opposed to bringing the whole community together in aggregate to look at a city plan because, actually, no one who lives in Alberta really thinks in terms of what’s going to be on 15th Street,” Jones said. “And the same thing applies with persons who are along The Strip.”

According to the plan presented by Tuscaloosa Forward, “a new village center located along University Boulevard becomes the heart of the Alberta neighborhood and an attractive gateway into the city.”

The plan proposes that housing be built close to the village center to allow residents to take advantage of shopping and services.

Nancy Graves, the administrative liaison for the Rebuild Tuscaloosa Task Force, said that Alberta citizens, such as ministers, business owners, and former residents who are concerned for their elderly parents, have been involved in the planning process. She added that citizens hope Alberta will be “a better place” and said that one person once mentioned to her that Alberta could be Tuscaloosa’s Greensburg – a town in Kansas that was hit by a tornado in 2007 and is rebuilding as a model “green” town.

With the planning process underway, Jones said he expects that city officials and planners have paid close attention to having “balance and symmetry” throughout Tuscaloosa, although he hopes each section keeps its original identity.

Jones said he believes Alberta can be a stronger community than it was before and thinks that it will “welcome new businesses and a greater diversity of businesses,” which will help the community. He added that those who had houses and families in Alberta are coming back, and he expects the community to attract new residents.

“There are plenty of people just repairing what’s there. Those people, they’re not leaving; they’re not going anywhere. It’s home,” he said. “They’re there for the long haul.”

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