Tornado causes housing crunch in poor, rural Alabama county

Apr 15, 2022, 11:35 AM | Updated: 11:45 am

EUTAW, Ala. (AP) — Only 7,600 or so people live in impoverished Greene County, and hundreds of them are clustered in a public housing community called Branch Heights. Officials are now trying to find housing for more than 100 residents who were displaced when a tornado hit the neighborhood late Wednesday.

The hunt is complicated by the fact that the rural area, located about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of Birmingham, doesn’t have much excess housing that’s suitable, and some people lack transportation. To make matters worse, forecasters say more storms are possible this weekend.

“We have to find somewhere for them to live, they have to have shelter,” Anita Lewis, executive director of the Greene County Housing Authority, told WBMA-TV on Thursday. “The more I looked, the more devastating it got.”

More than 40 homes in the community were damaged by what the National Weather Service said was a weak tornado, and 27 are uninhabitable with significant damage to roofs and other parts of the structure. About 110 people were displaced, officials said.

Mattie Roscoe, who rode out the twister with one of her grandchildren, was briefly trapped in the wreckage of her home.

“All I said was take care and have mercy on me, Lord,” Roscoe told WBRC-TV.

The storm presented the first crisis of first-term Mayor LaTasha Johnson’s new administration. She said she had made it a priority to clean up the storm damage and find housing for displaced people.

“Right now we’re in the process of getting families located to have somewhere to stay, and we’re asking for help, any help we can get,” Johnson said.

The damage wasn’t widespread, and it’s unclear whether the area qualifies for outside aid. The housing authority plans to put people in a hotel and work as quickly as possible to get apartments ready for residents to move back, but some of the work could take longer.

“We don’t have any vacant units,” Lewis said. “We’ve reached out to other housing authorities to see if they have any vacancies. … If not here, we will have to go to Tuscaloosa.”

But there’s concern about transportation if residents are placed outside of Greene County, which is among the poorest regions in Alabama.

“A lot of residents don’t have cars, so this is the best place for them to be,” said Lewis. “We are going to have to try to figure out how we are going to deal with that.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


A demonstrator in Tel Aviv holds a sign calling for a cease-fire in the Hamas-Israel war on Nov. 21...

Associated Press

Hamas releases a third group of hostages as part of truce, and says it will seek to extend the deal

The fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was back on track Sunday as the first American was released under a four-day truce.

4 days ago

Men look over the site of a deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, ...

Associated Press

New AP analysis of last month’s deadly Gaza hospital explosion rules out widely cited video

The Associated Press is publishing an updated visual analysis of the deadly Oct. 17 explosion at Gaza's Al-Ahli Hospital.

8 days ago

Peggy Simpson holds a photograph of law enforcement carrying Lee Harvey Oswald's gun through a hall...

Associated Press

JFK assassination remembered 60 years later by surviving witnesses to history, including AP reporter

Peggy Simpson is among the last surviving witnesses who are sharing their stories as the nation marks the 60th anniversary.

8 days ago

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, ...

Associated Press

Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire with Hamas; deal includes release of 50 hostages

Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a cease-fire deal with the Hamas militant group that would bring a temporary halt to a devastating war.

9 days ago

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump helps serve food to Texas Natio...

Associated Press

Trump receives endorsement from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a visit to a US-Mexico border town

Donald Trump picked up the Texas governor’s endorsement Sunday during a visit to a U.S.-Mexico border town.

10 days ago

Eric Trump, executive vice president of Trump Organization Inc., speaks to the media as he leaves f...

Associated Press

Lawyers in Trump’s civil fraud trial are ordered to clam up about judge’s communications with staff

Eric Trump testified Friday that he was relying on accountants to ensure the accuracy of financial statements.

27 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Follow @KTAR923...

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Tornado causes housing crunch in poor, rural Alabama county