Mayor Walt Maddox Marks Anniversary of April

Posted By rotary

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox Rotary Club SpeakerLast week marked the one year anniversary of the April 2011 tornado in Tuscaloosa, and Rotarians marked the solemn occasion with a visit from one of the most important leaders in the aftermath of the storm. Mayor Walter Maddox spoke to the club on the events of April 27, and all that has gone on in the year since that day. Rotarian Mark Nelson introduced the speaker.



Mayor Maddox reminded Tuscaloosa Rotarians that our city endured what has ended up being the fifth worst storm of its kind in United States history. At its height the tornado was 1.7 miles wide with sustained winds of over 190 mph. The devastation matched the severity of the storm. 53 died as a result. DCH alone treated 800 patients, and had hundreds more come through its doors. 2,493 residences were damaged, 1,257 destroyed. Hundreds of businesses were damaged or destroyed as well.



Worst of all for the city leadership, though, was the damage to the very heart of Tuscaloosa’s civic infrastructure: Fire station 4, the East Precinct in Alberta and the Curry facility, home to all of the city’s emergency management vehicles, maintenance and environmental services—the very things the city needed to deal with the impact of the storm— were all damaged or destroyed. In the days after the storm, repairs went on 24 hours a day. City vehicles were in many cases literally held together with duct tape.



But Tuscaloosa’s people, aided by so many from Northport, the county, state and nation, led the way to recovery. “It starts with having great people,” Maddox said, “and great neighbors.” Maddox recognized Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon, the leaders of Tuscaloosa’s police and fire community, as well as Rotarian and Sheriff Ted Sexton, along with other leaders and countless volunteers.



A year later, recovery is moving along well. 1.5 million cubic yards of debris have been removed—the equivalent of filling Bryant-Denny stadium all the way to the lights, five times. Tuscaloosa has also begun to implement its master plan for redevelopment, Tuscaloosa Forward. The ongoing efforts will take years to come to fruition, and the Mayor asked for patience—the same patience that has allowed projects like the River Walk and the Amphitheater to come to fruition.



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