Alabama Looks to the Future as Rebuilding Begins

July 21, 2011

Whole towns destroyed by the more than 60 tornadoes that ravaged Alabama in one day this past April are beginning to rebuild.

A study by the University of Alabama found that the April 27 tornadoes killed 244 people in Alabama and destroyed or made uninhabitable 14,000 homes.

As communities begin to reconstruct, many are considering sustainable and resilient rebuilding. Several communities are working to rebuild with the help of state agencies, including the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency in a program called long-term community recovery, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The goal of the program is a recovery document that maps out the rebuilding process based on community needs and wants, as well as to determine funding sources to offset the costs.

“Building in a manner that minimizes loss is worth the extra effort because it lessens disruption to people’s lives, reduces the cost of storm repairs and saves jobs,” said John Boyle, a senior planner and contractor with FEMA.

Sustainable building techniques include orienting the building to increase natural sunlight for heat and light, using LED lighting and reducing water consumption through low-flow fixtures. In addition, the construction is “tighter” to minimize air leaks that cause heating and cooling loss.

Resilience building techniques lead to structures able to withstand the forces of nature, including storms and earthquakes. It also reduces risks by building to higher standards and locating buildings away from hazards, such as flooding.

Source: FEMA

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