Eight counties approved for FEMA assistance and SBA disaster loans; Five died in Calhoun County during March 25 tornadoes

Eight Alabama counties have been approved for individual assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency: Bibb, Calhoun, Clay, Hale, Jefferson, Perry, Randolph and Shelby. Businesses and residents in the declared area also can apply for low-interest physical and economic injury disaster loans from the Small Business Administration as a result of an April 26 presidential disaster declaration. Also, The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain tax-filing and tax-payment deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after March 25 and before Aug. 2,  are postponed through Aug. 2. This includes the May 17 deadline for filing 2020 individual income tax returns and paying any tax due. Taxpayers also have until August 2 to make 2020 IRA contributions, according to the IRS.

Applications for physical damage are due June 25, 2021.
The economic injury loan deadline is Jan. 26, 2022.

Available assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help recover from the effects of the March 25/26 disaster. Individuals who sustained losses in the designated counties can apply for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT seven days a week until further notice.

Long-term, low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also may be available to cover losses not fully compensated by insurance and that do not duplicate benefits from other agencies or organizations.

Businesses and private nonprofits of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA, for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter, French drain or retaining wall to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in the following adjacent counties are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans: Blount, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Cleburne, Coosa, Dallas, Etowah, Greene, Marengo, Saint Clair, Tallapoosa, Talladega, Tuscaloosa and Walker. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoan.sba.gov.

Virtual customer support representatives are available to help applicants complete the online application during these hours:

Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center/Business Recovery Center (VDLOC/VBRC)
Open: Monday – Sunday (7 days/week)
Hours: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. (Central Time) / 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Eastern Time)
Email: FOCE-Help@sba.gov
Phone: (800) 659-2955

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at  DisasterLoan.sba.gov. To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or download the FEMA mobile app. If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services should call 800-621-3362.

At 10 a.m. March 25, 46 Alabama counties were placed under a severe weather state of emergency. The Calhoun County coroner confirmed four died in an afternoon tornado in Ohatchee and a fifth in Wellington. A National Weather Service survey confirmed 11 tornadoes passed through the state, including one 80.38-mile track from Hale to Shelby counties. That particular tornado had the seventh longest single tornado track ever in the state of Alabama.

The state of emergency included: Autauga, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Coosa, Cullman, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Lowndes, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Washington, Wilcox and Winston counties.

Governor’s Proclamation

Alabama EMA

Potential Tornado Outbreak March 25 Into Early Friday

The state of emergency suspends any COVID-19 health order provision that would endanger lives of those affected by the severe weather or would impede response. With that one exception, COVID-19 orders remain in place.

The proclamation also instructs the National Guard to be prepared to be activated to respond to the severe weather event and the Alabama Emergency Agency to assess damages as a result of the event.

The statewide emergency proclamation prohibits price gouging and eases transportation restrictions for the movement of emergency supplies throughout the state.

When Alabama experiences a state of emergency, Alabama’s price gouging law is in effect.

ALABAMA’S PRICE GOUGING LAWMakes it unlawful for anyone to raise prices on commodities or lodging by more than 25 percent during the declared state of emergency. To avoid violating Alabama’s price gouging law, figure the price charged for each of the previous 30 days. Add the 30 daily prices, divide by 30, and multiply the price by .25, or 25 percent, to figure the maximum price increase allowed for any one day. The exception is if a wholesale price increases by more than 25 percent and merchants have no choice but to pass along the price increase.

The fine for violating Alabama’s price gouging law can be up to $1,000 per incident. Those who willfully and continually violate the law can be banned from doing business in Alabama.

TRANSPORTATION
The declaration also allows truck drivers delivering disaster-related supplies and goods to Alabama to exceed the hours of service or spend less time off duty than required by federal law. The waiver only applies to the time a driver is delivering the disaster supplies for up to 30 days after the emergency declaration, or until the declaration ends. Under federal law, a driver may drive only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. The proclamation loosens that regulation only as it relates to the timely delivery of disaster supplies for the 30 days or less of the emergency declaration.

The order also allows the Alabama Department of Transportation to issue weight waivers for vehicles and loads. Bridge and other structural weight limits and well as insurance requirements remain.

ROAD CLOSURES AND CONDITIONS
For real-time road conditions, the Alabama Department of Transportation encourages you to visit https://algotraffic.com/ or download the ALGO Traffic app available through the Apple App Store and Google Play.

OVERWEIGHT OR OVERSIZE LOADS
For information on permitting related to oversize or overweight loads, contact the Alabama Department of Transportation’s Vehicle Enforcement Office from 7 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. CST Monday – Friday.

EMERGENCY NUMBERS:

  • For medical and life-threatening emergencies, dial 9-1-1.
  • Drivers can report an accident or other emergencies to state troopers by dialing *HP on their cellular devices.
  • Businesses that want to know how to help or donate to relief efforts, call 2-1-1.

WEATHER INFORMATION:
Click the links below for more of your local weather information.

Huntsville https://www.weather.gov/hun/
Birmingham https://www.weather.gov/bmx/
Mobile https://www.weather.gov/mob/

Visit Alabama Retail’s Emergency Preparedness page for other links to the state’s emergency management resource.

Originally posted 10:31 a.m. March 25, 2021. Last updated at 5 p.m. April 27, 2021