On April 27, 2011, a massive tornado slammed into Birmingham's Pratt City, causing widespread destruction to homes, businesses and the neighborhood Fire Station. Mayor William Bell was among those who raced to the scene. He says he was moved by the sight of hundreds, if not thousands of citizens making their way to the Fire Station despite its damage. The station remained open, operating in a makeshift tent and building to continue to provide services to the community.
Now, three years later, Mayor Bell is marking the recovery of Pratt City and its beloved fire station, rebuilt with $2.55 million in HUD Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding. HUD's mandate to the local office was to help the city and the state in its recovery from the devastating storms.
On Saturday, April 26, 2014 the Mayor returned to the scene of the disaster in Pratt City. He went to celebrate and to acknowledge the role HUD played in the recovery. Charles Franklin, HUD's director of Community Planning Development was pivotal for its smooth progression. Tom Tiffin, HUD's Community Planning and Development Specialist-Disaster Recovery, now assumes the role of leading the recovery.
The Mayor spoke from a stage set up in front of the library that was destroyed during the storm. It too has since been rebuilt with new amenities including a safe room for refuge in future storms. Another piece of the recovery picture that was celebrated was a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a brand new, 42-unit senior housing facility. This state of the art development was built with $2.7 million in HUD HOME funding along with $2.47 million in HUD CDBG-DR.
A vital part of the changing landscape of the Pratt City community is the construction of 14 new homes with HUD Neighborhood Stabilization Program (round 3) funding in the amount of $2.57 million. In addition to being attractive homes with the state-of-the-art amenities, they also come with a safe room to be used as shelter in the event of another natural disaster.