Donald Trump issues disaster declaration for Ala. counties following delegation letter

torando damage
This photo provided by Johnny Tribble shows a damaged house after a tornado in Ardmore, Ala., Monday, March 19, 2018. [Photo Credit: Johnny Tribble via AP]

Following a letter from the Alabama delegation, President Donald Trump directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to make federal disaster aid available to the State of Alabama to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and tornadoes during the period of March 19, 2018 through March 20, 2018.

The congressional delegation letter — led by Sen. Richard Shelby, signed by entire delegation including U.S. Sen Doug Jones, along with U.S. Reps. Bradley Byrne (AL-01), Martha Roby (AL-02), Mike Rogers, (R-Ala.), Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Mo Brooks (AL-05), Gary Palmer (AL-06), and Terri Sewell (AL-07) — encouraged the President to issue the disaster declaration that would trigger the release of federal funds to help people and communities recover from the severe storms and tornadoes that occurred March 19-20, 2018.

During the night of the 19th into the morning of the 20th, severe storms spawned tornadoes, damaged homes and downed trees as they moved across the Southeast.

“This disaster declaration is critical following the significant destruction that occurred throughout the state, but specifically in these four Alabama counties,” said Shelby. “I am grateful that the President has decided to send federal recovery resources to assist in the rebuilding of our communities.” 

Gov. Kay Ivey also requested Trump grant disaster assistance.

“The recovery process following a disaster is a long and tough road and I appreciate President Trump for approving this major disaster declaration request,” Ivey said. “This declaration will provide much needed assistance to Alabamians affected by the March 19th storms and will ease the burden on local governments as they continue the recovery process.”

The President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individual homeowners and renters in Calhoun, Cullman and Etowah counties. Residents within the counties may now apply for federal disaster assistance for uninsured and underinsured damage and losses resulting from the March 19th storms. Assistance for eligible survivors can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, and for other serious disaster-related needs, such as medical and dental expenses. Long-term, low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) may also be available to cover losses not fully compensated by insurance and that do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.

“I cannot thank our federal partners enough for their support during the joint damage assessments as well as the constant communication as we awaited final approval,” Director Brian E. Hastings said. “Recovering from disasters requires the whole community. Volunteers, first responders and local Emergency Management officials have done an exceptional job during the response phase and now we are pleased to have federal assistance to help with the long recovery process.”

For information on how to register with FEMA, you can do so by phone or online:

  • Online at, or
  • On the FEMA Mobile App, or by
  • Calling 800-621-3362 (FEMA). Applicants who use Video Relay Service may also call 800-621-3362. People who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY may call 800-462-7585 directly; for those who used 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362.
  • The toll-free numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, seven days a week.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures. The purpose of the program is to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster.

Read the letter from the Alabama delegation:

 Mr. President:

 As members of the Alabama delegation, we write in strong support of Governor Kay Ivey’s request for a federal disaster declaration for Cullman, St. Clair, Calhoun, and Etowah counties. 

On March 19, 2018, severe storms and tornadoes touched down in the eastern part of Alabama and caused catastrophic damage in 27 counties across the state.  In less than 24 hours, Governor Ivey declared a State of Emergency.  Local emergency management agencies aided the impacted residents and, with assistance from regional FEMA officials, prepared their Preliminary Damage Assessment.  State officials have estimated substantial damages across these counties. 

Considering the scope and intensity of this natural disaster, we ask that you carefully review Governor Ivey’s request and approve a federal disaster declaration. In doing so, you will allow thousands of Americans to begin the slow process of rebuilding their lives after this terrible incident.