Alabama

On a beautiful late afternoon in early May, Dedrick Benison and Michael Calvin are quietly surveying the house that came crashing down around them just a week before.  On April 27th they were watching a movie here, a neighbor’s house on the catfish farm where the men live and work, near Forkland, Alabama.  Moments later a tornado collapsed the roof and ripped off the kitchen wall, sending furniture and splintered wood flying.

“I hate disasters,” Derrick Evans has said grumpily and repeatedly over the past several days.  As a resident of coastal Mississippi and a Gulf Coast advocate, Evans has been through situations like this before – Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, BP, to name a few. 

Like Holt-Peterson Road near John Wathen's place outside Tuscaloosa, I have seen total destruction in nearby Alberta City and Crescent Ridge Road, in Birmingham's African-American community of Pratt City (approximately 7,000 homes), and elsewhere.
 
The question that folks who want to volunteer or send relief must begin to ask is not "how hard was xx hit?", but "where is there NOT a steady flow (or even an over-abundance) of relief?"
 

Today in Mobile, Alabama, community leaders from across the Gulf Coast got together for day one of a two-day summit on fair housing and environmental justice.  At the end of a day packed with panels, workshops, and speeches, I spoke with Teresa Bettis, who played a major role in organizing the summit.

Coden, Alabama – On Saturday, this small coastal community became home to one of the largest solar power systems in the state of Alabama.

The 25,000 kilowatt system, powered by 108 solar panels, was installed in the Coastal Response Center, a hurricane shelter, community center, and home to the local group South Bay Communities Alliance, whose advocacy repaired and renovated the building after Hurricane Katrina.

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