Clinton Authorizes More Aid For Alabama Tornado Victims
By Wolf Blitzer/CNN
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 15) -- In southern Alabama to survey last week's tornado damage, President Bill Clinton announced Wednesday another $3.2 million in disaster aid for the victims of the twisters.
Calling the tornado one of the deadliest and most powerful in Alabama and U.S. history, the president told survivors in Jefferson County, "The entire country has been moved by this disaster, by its scope, by its sweep, and by the way that you have recovered and tried to fight through it.
"We are making available all categories of public assistance funding for local governments and non-profit organizations to rebuild, restore and reconstruct public facilities, including schools and infrastructure," Clinton said.
Federal assistance programs announced for Alabama since the twisters hit a total about $12 million. That includes the additional money authorized Wednesday.
Deputy White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart told reporters aboard Air Force One on the flight from Houston to Birmingham the new money will be a U.S. Labor Department grant to help workers who have lost income as a result of the devastation.
Clinton also announced other federal measures to help the Alabama towns hit by the twisters, including counseling programs and temporary work for those who lost their jobs due to the storms.
"There are emotional and physical stresses associated with a disaster like this that go beyond the cost of the building blowing down and the home blown away and the family letters and pictures that will never be seen again," he said.
Clinton also said the National Council of Churches had pledged to assist the effort to rebuild or repair churches destroyed or damaged in the storm.
Earlier in the morning the president toured tornado-devastated Pratt City where more than 300 homes were damaged or destroyed during the storms. Clinton visited there to show his support for the survivors, especially African Americans who have felt neglected in the days since the twisters.
Vice President Al Gore visited the area last week in the immediate aftermath, but didn't visit the predominantly black areas that were damaged.
Following his Alabama visit, the president will return to the White House before once again heading back to Air Force One this evening for the long flight to Chile for the Summit of the Hemisphere.