Congresswoman Sewell tours Bessemer tornado area

BESSEMER, Ala. (WIAT) — United States Congresswoman Terri Sewell and Alabama Emergency Management Director Art Faulkner toured the devastation in Bessemer Friday morning.

Sewell says seeing it in person will help them make a stronger case to Washington that the federal government should help storm survivors get back on their feet.

“We are working to get this area declared a major disaster so that we can get individual assistance as well as public assistance for everyone,” Sewell said.

Faulkner says the EMA is still assessing storm damage. He says they’re tackling the hardest hit counties first.

“We will continue to work throughout the state, because we’ve still got areas of the state that’s flooded from the torrential rains in South Alabama,” Faulkner said.

Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley tells CBS42 crews have removed about 90 percent of the debris from the streets in hard hit parts of the city.

They have a long way to go, but they are bringing in all the available resources at their disposal.

“I would like to thank all of the volunteers. I would like to thank all the citizens for your resilience,” said Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley. “We know that the major blessing is that we had no loss of lives.  We had no major injuries, and the rest of it, with the help of the almighty God, we know that we can get through.”

Places like Bessemer need help, but Faulkner says even if President Barack Obama declares Alabama a major disaster area, federal relief funds won’t be available immediately.

He says it’s important to have groups like the American Red Cross to help people bridge that gap.

Copyright 2014 WIAT-TV CBS42

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