Roby Column - May 6, 2011
The Fall of Osama Bin Laden
Our country received news late Sunday night that the leader of Al-Qaeda and the mastermind behind the tragic 9-11 terrorist attacks has fallen. Osama bin Laden was killed during a raid planned and carried out by U.S. Special Forces. The news will forever remain a tremendous moment in our history. Nearly a decade has passed since bin Laden breached our country’s security attacking our soil on 9-11. Thousands of innocent civilian lives were lost in his vain attempt to destroy our freedom. His fall marks justice for all the victims, their families and the many lives forever changed in the horrific display of evil that day.
On that day on 9-11 - and each day thereafter - firefighters, first responders and military service personnel are those who have been responsible for maintaining the security and strong defense of our country. We are thankful for our brave men and women serving in uniform, and those serving in the intelligence community, who continue to demonstrate courage and fight for the safety of our nation in the face of terrorism. There is no doubt that bin Laden’s ultimate demise is due to the tireless effort and work of George W. Bush and the continued efforts of President Obama and his administration.
America remains grateful for all of the men and women who have sacrificed so much in the war against terror over the past nine years. We have much work left to do and must never let our defenses down. This is a dangerous world, and there are those who hate our liberty and freedom who will go to extremes to do whatever they can to destroy it. It is important to continue to stand strong in our defense as a nation to continue to protect our freedoms from any possible threats.
Alabama’s Tornado Tragedy
The people of Alabama are recovering from a historic tragedy after a dangerous storm system recently swept across our state. Even as the recovery process is quickly underway, we are just beginning to get a glimpse of the destruction and the extensive damage caused by the storm. Across Alabama, people have started repairing homes and rebuilding businesses. However, for many others, the storm system resulted in a total loss.
The tornado that hit parts of Alabama reached winds up to nearly 200 mph and was given a rating by the weather service as an EF5 - the highest possible rating. The destruction tragically claimed nearly 240 lives in Alabama so far. While the Second Congressional District dodged the full force of the storm, Elmore County sustained significant damage and, tragically, the loss of six lives. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all the victims and their families during this time of loss.
Governor Bentley and President Obama should be commended for immediately recognizing the severity of this storm and moving swiftly to make disaster declarations. Their quick actions allowed state and federal assets to mobilize immediately. This allowed response teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to immediately begin to assess damage and prepare recovery centers to assist those affected by the storms. So far, FEMA has designated 39 Alabama counties on list for designated for disaster assistance.
Touring the devastated areas in the Second Congressional District this week gave me a firsthand account of the damage resulting in the deadly storms. I visited with the Director of the Emergency Management Agency in Elmore County, Eric Jones, who briefed me about the most damaged areas in the district. When visiting the devastated areas throughout Elmore County, I talked with local citizens and learned about their amazing accounts of survival and support efforts. I was very appreciative to all the residents and local officials I spoke to who are demonstrating such resilience and strength during this great tragedy.
Amidst the news about the level of destruction, there is good news that our state has started to rebuild and regain its footing. Thousands of citizens have registered to volunteer to assist in the recovery process, schools and businesses are opening back up and the power is coming back on. Our state has received a generous outpouring of humanitarian support from neighboring states and organizations around the country. Rebuilding will not happen overnight, but it a measure of hope that the recovery and rebuilding work has already begun.
History demonstrates that when tragedy and disaster strike Alabama, the people of our state come together. We assist our neighbors. We help our friends. And we rebuild our neighborhoods. It is evident that this time is no different. I am proud to represent people that care so deeply about their communities, and I will do all I can to make sure they have the resources they need in the weeks ahead.
Information on how to apply for disaster assistance:
Those affected by the storms and tornadoes in Autauga, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Colbert, Coosa, Cullman, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Pickens, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Washington and Winston counties may be eligible for grants to help with rental assistance, home repairs and other serious disaster-related needs. To receive assistance, survivors need to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
To apply, call 1-800-621-3362. Operators are multilingual. Those with a hearing or speech impairment can use TTY 800-462-7585. Or you can use a Web-enabled mobile device or Smartphone. Point your browser to m.fema.gov and click "Apply for FEMA Assistance." Those with computer access can register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.