Phyllis Little remembers all too well the spring Cullman had a year ago.
And while it's been unusually quiet for the state weather-wise in 2012, Little continues to remind residents severe weather can hit any time, no matter what month.
That's why the Cullman EMA director is encouraging people to take advantage of this weekend's state sales tax holiday for severe weather preparedness items and to stock up on essential supplies at a reduced cost.
"With the way the economy is, anything that will help people save money and help purchase needed supplies at a reduced cost, I'm all for," Little said. "Any little thing helps right now."
The holiday, which began at midnight and continues through Sunday, is a direct result of the work accomplished by Gov. Robert Bentley's Tornado Recovery Action Council, which he appointed following the April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak. This is Alabama’s first-ever state sales tax holiday for severe weather preparedness items.
Employees at Lowes spent Thursday setting up a tent near the front entrance of the store designated specifically for items covered by the tax-free holiday.
“We did order extra quantities of flashlights and batteries and things of that nature so we would still be able to stock those items and supply everybody in case we did see a big run on those,” Lowes manager Billy Perry said.
A spokesperson at Kmart said they, too, got a truckload of extra items Thursday in anticipation for those planning to take advantage this weekend.
Of the items listed, Little said the most important item she recommends people pick up is a weather radio. She also recommends each household have at least one flashlight per person. In addition she said it’s always good to have extra batteries around.
She added a generator would be a nice investment for those who could afford it.
“In the last year-and-a-half, we’ve had two different weather events where generators were needed,” Little said. “The winter weather we saw was not as bad as the tornadoes we saw in April, but we still had power out. Generators are always a good back up, even with the extreme heat like we’re having.”
The covered items must cost $60 or less, except for generators, which are covered as long as they cost $1,000 or less.
Beginning in 2013, the annual sales tax holiday will be held during the last full week of February. This will place the holiday in close proximity to the annual Severe Weather Awareness Week and ahead of Alabama’s primary severe weather season.
“Our goals with this annual sales tax holiday are to raise awareness, to increase preparedness, and ultimately to save lives,” Bentley said in a statement released this week. “We have seen nature’s fury from tornadoes to hurricanes and other storms. I encourage people to use this weekend’s sales tax holiday as a good chance to prepare for future disasters.”
Items covered by the sales tax holiday:
Several types of batteries, including cell phone batteries and chargers
NOAA weather radios
Flashlights, lanterns, and emergency glow sticks
First Aid kits
Plywood, window film, or other materials, specifically designed to protect window openings
Gas or diesel fuel containers
Tarpaulins and plastic sheeting
Any non-electric food storage cooler or water storage container
Non-electric can openers
Any artificial ice, blue ice, ice packs or reusable ice
Fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors
Ground anchor systems such as cordes, ropes, or tie-down kits
* Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 225, or by email at email@example.com