By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
Cullman city and county officials knew they’d be getting millions to help rebuild following the 2011 tornadoes, but that relief was made official Tuesday.
The State of Alabama officially awarded more than $30 million in grants to seven counties and nine municipalities at a special meeting in Cullman, including $5.72 million to the City of Cullman, $1.29 million to Cullman County and $80,000 to Hanceville.
The funding is part of a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development meant to assist with reconstruction and revitalization made necessary by the 2011 tornadoes that shredded the state.
The area’s largest appropriation — $5.72 million for Cullman — will be used to repair a critical sewer line that was heavily damaged by the storms. The line feeds nearly half the city and is on the verge of collapse.
The city will use the funds to replace the 9,400-foot-long, 24-inch pipe that runs along Eight-Mile Creek and drains the entire north side of the city’s sewer system with a larger 36-inch pipe. The project, which was submitted as a “critical need,” will also replace four smaller lines that feed into the main trunk line.
The exact cost of the project is estimated at $6.4 million, with a local match commitment of $715,435 for engineering and land acquisition costs.
“This project is important because of the damage the storm did, and we lost 10 feet of right of way from that,” Cullman Mayor Max Townson said. “If that line had gone down into the creek, it would have taken a massive clean-up effort. Without a stable water and sewer system, a community can’t be prosperous.”
In Cullman County, the ADECA awards mean $1.29 million to improve some local roadways that were damaged during clean-up after the storms. County Road 38 and County Road 1518 near the Fairview community were both heavily damaged by increased traffic in the aftermath of the storm.
“There was a lot of damage from hauling of debris from storm damaged areas, with heavy truck traffic coming through,” county engineer Jon Brunner explained.
The City of Hanceville was the area’s final recipient, with $80,000 earmarked for sewer improvements due to storm damage. The project revolves around an upgrade and the installation of a back-up to a sewer lift station on the north side of the city.
“That way, if something goes out, we can continue to do our jobs and get the sewage out of town,” water department manager Nathan Finley said. “It will be a great benefit for us.”
All the projects will be partially coordinated through HUD via community planning and development specialist Tom Tiffin, a Cullman native. Tiffin said he was excited to be able to help his hometown with so many worthy causes.
“We’re so thrilled to be assisting Cullman with these recovery operations, in cooperation with ADECA,” Tiffin said. “Our overall role is to provide any needed technical assistant in the implementation of activities approved by the State of Alabama.”
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley was unable to attend the Cullman meeting to announce the grants, though he did release a statement expressing his admiration for the state’s resiliency.
“Alabaminans have worked hard to recover from the impact of the April 2011 tornadoes,” he said. “We have seen a remarkable spirit of recovery in every area, but there are still effects from the tornadoes that communities need help to address. These grants will help Alabama communities continue the recovery process and become better places to live, work and raise a family.”
Ala.Projects Receive ADECA Funding:
Tuscaloosa County: $7.3 million for sewer improvements and demolition.
Cullman: $5.72 for sewer improvements.
Cordova: $3.7 million for rebuilding city hall and the police department, road improvements.
Hackleburg: $3.4 million for rebuilding town hall and the police department, street improvements and economic development.
Marion County: $2.63 million for road and water improvements.
Cullman County: $1.29 million for road improvements.
Franklin County: $1.23 million for road improvements.
Winston County: $986,029 for road improvements.
Phil Campbell: $976,104 for street and sewer improvements, demolition.
Blount County: $758,572 for road improvements.
DeKalb County: $672,135 for road improvements.
Birmingham: $625,000 for demolition.
Moulton: $593,480 for street improvements.
Haleyville: $523, 876 for street improvements.
Tuscaloosa: $100,000 for bus stop.
Hanceville: $80,000 for sewer improvements.
Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 134.