THE MAGAZINE

Urban Area Perspective: Tuscaloosa

By Matthew Harwood

Is there anything Tuscaloosa is doing to incentivize individual disaster preparedness?

Aside from helping residents apply for the shelter program, Alabama has pushed preparedness through programs, such as “Get Ten,” for a number of years. These are 10 essential items to have in your home in case of a disaster. While a home may not have an individual safe room that meets FEMA standards, it may have a safer area that people should go to during severe weather such as tornados. We encourage people to identify that and prepare.

How has Tuscaloosa involved its citizens in the recovery process?

There have been a number of community meetings to gather input from the community. In the City of Tuscaloosa, we have Tuscaloosa Forward, a strategic community plan to rebuild. And this process is helping citizens identify overlooked problems. For instance, the tornado destroyed a number of our old growth trees. So now we have a group working on ways to help people replant trees in their neighborhoods but in a responsible way. Some trees are quick to grow, but they do not hold up well in the wind. In addition, where you plant is also important. You need to stay away from your underground utilities, for example. After a storm, it is not uncommon for water or gas leaks to be attributed to pipes damaged when a tree is blown over due to high winds.

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