Bentley: ‘We must now enter the recovery process’

Published 7:36 pm Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gov. Robert Bentley, in his speech tonight to the legislature, pledged state assistance to county governments in the rebuilding efforts following the April 27 tornadoes.

“Alabamians care for one another,” Bentley said, as he praised those from the first responders who worked around the clock, emergency management agency workers and National guardsman to utility men and ordinary citizens who “dropped everything to rush to the aid of their neighbors.”

He said it was with a “heavy heart, but hopeful spirit” that state will begin its recovery process. For the last six days, Alabamians have been in “rescue mode,” he said.

“And as much as we pray for additional survivors, we must now enter the recovery process.”

At present, 36 counties have been approved for federal disaster assistance.

Bentley said he will meet with executives from the state’s four largest property insurance companies Wednesday to discuss the state’s recovery.

He said he has been in contact with FEMA, as well as mayors of the affected areas.

“But FEMA funds only cover a portion of the cost associated with debris removal,” he said. “State and local governments share the rest. I know local governments have been struggling with how they will pay their share. To make sure there is no delay in getting this recovery and rebuilding process moving quickly, I have committed the state to pay the local government’s share for 30 days.

“We are beginning an unprecedented rebuilding effort in Alabama,” he said. “Just like me, many of you in the Legislature have seen these communities. You live there; you’ve talked with the families face to face like I have.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot – and we will not – let these people down,” he said.

In closing, Bentley urged lawmakers to support legislation that would allow flexibility in state education funds to cover repairs to some 18 damaged schools, to pass any budget-supporting bills and economic incentive legislation and to pass a state budget.