By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
After waiting nearly two years, the City of Hanceville received a reimbursement check for more than $120,000 last week from the state and FEMA for the post-2011 tornado clean-up.
Mayor Kenneth Nail said he went straight to the bank with the State of Alabama and FEMA check and paid off the $74,000-plus loan they took out after the tornadoes to help rebuild their city.
“After we paid off the loan, I was able to stick the other $54,441.52 into savings for Hanceville,” Nail said. “We are very thankful for the state and FEMA, and especially Rep. Mac Buttram, Congressman Robert Aderholt, and Sen. Paul Bussman for staying on this and helping us get it accomplished.”
The loan process was initiated with the April 27, 2011, tornadoes that devastated many communities. Hanceville was hit hard by the storms, and Nail said the aftermath and clean-up were both trying ordeals.
“I’m glad it’s all over; I’ve been worried sick that our city would have to pay several hundred thousand dollars,” Nail said. “What saved us is that people came to Hanceville and donated their time during the disaster relief process. We logged over a thousand man hours and recorded over $70,000 in donations. If that wouldn’t have happened, we wouldn’t be putting $54,000 into savings.”
Nail said getting grant money for clean-up after the fact and the process that has gone on since has not been an easy one.
“We had boxes upon boxes of paperwork that had to be done in order to get the help,” Nail said. “There were dozen of variables that had to be documented, verified and re-verfied. It was a nightmare going through the tornado, but it was also nightmarish going though the paperwork to get the money to help after. They had to document everything that was picked up, and hired, 21 people, which 20 of them were from Cullman County, so that gave 20 people a job while we got our cleanup done, and they monitored everything that was going on-what day, what hour, anything and everything that was moved or transported. The documentation was absolutely unreal.”
Nail said the City of Hanceville managed the clean-up process at a lower cost than anyone in the state, charging $8.50 per cubic yard.
“We ought to do everything in our power to save the government money. Just because you can blow money, doesn’t mean you should,” Nail said. “The former council and I felt like we should do the clean-up as cheap as possible. Did it put a strain on our city? Absolutely, but between the federal government and Alabama we saved them over $7 million by doing it the way that we did in little Hanceville.”
Looking back, Nail said this was a huge milestone and memorable event during his tenure as mayor.
“It was a struggle for the city, for us to go borrow half a million dollars to go pay this, but I’m very glad it worked out,” Nail said. “This was a major thing for me and for Hanceville, probably one of the best things I’ve been involved in since I’ve been mayor. It’s definitely a big day for the city of Hanceville; we were able to pay back the loans we borrowed and also put some savings in the bank.”
Lauren Estes can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext 270, or at email@example.com.