SYLVANIA, Ala. (WHNT) — This week marks 18 months since the deadly storms of April 27, 2011, and United States senator Jeff Sessions met with DeKalb County leaders to evaluate the latest in their recovery.
Sessions came to the area right after the storms and this visit allowed him to see some of the structures rebuilt since then, including Mountain View Baptist Church.
The storms demolished the church, and DeKalb County emergency management director Anthony Clifton showed aerial photos of the rubble that remained.
“It was completely gone, everything was wiped out, but they’ve come back and it looks better than it ever has,” commission president Ricky Harcrow said.
Wednesday’s meeting was in the church’s fellowship hall.
“It’s good to see the strength of the community, they’ve maintained good confidence in the future,” Sessions said.
“They seem to be happy and pleased with the federal side [response, from] FEMA, and the state response and the assistance they’ve gotten.”
Sessions asked Harcrow and other leaders what needs still exist.
“Some things take a long time, some things could probably go faster if the government could respond a little bette. Speed is important. If you’re going to rebuild a house, the sooner you can rebuild and get in it, the better off you are,” he said.
The senator said things are still in a bit of an evaluation period, and praised the effort and production of FEMA and EMA workers through Alabama.
“In the past we’ve had problems and I think FEMA’s system and the state’s system is better than it’s ever been in working with these problems and these disasters, and we want to continue to improve as we go forward,” Sessions said.
He said the response to these storms was particularly better than after Hurricane Katrina.
“You don’t hear the kind of complaints that I have heard in years past about mismanagement or excessive delays and that kind of thing.”
Senator Sessions also visited the recently re-opened DeKalb County Schools Coliseum in Rainsville, which is home to a monument in memory of the DeKalb County residents who died in the April 27, 2011 storms.