Posts Tagged ‘tornadoes’

REVISED-HIGH POVERTY AREAS HIT HARD BY TORNADOES: 36 of 42 Counties on disaster list have above-average poverty

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

BIRMINGHAM – 36 of the 42 Alabama counties that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has declared eligible for individual disaster assistance have poverty rates higher than the national average.

“Natural disasters hit high poverty communities the hardest,” says Kristina Scott, Executive Director of the Alabama Poverty Project (APP).  “They are more vulnerable to personal injury and property damage when a storm hits, have fewer financial resources and are more likely to experience severe mental health impacts, including post-traumatic stress disorder.”

According to the US Census Bureau, 14.3 percent of Americans live below the federal poverty threshold.  The poverty threshold is determined by age and number of people in a household and was $21,954 for a two-adult, two-child household in 2009, the most recent year for which poverty data is available.

The Census Bureau also reports that 17.5 percent of Alabamians live in poverty.  Fourteen of the tornado-impacted counties have poverty rates greater than 20 percent, including Chambers (20.7 percent), Choctaw (22.8 percent), Clarke (29.1 percent), DeKalb (21.7 percent), Franklin (21.8 percent), Greene (28.4 percent), Hale (26.6 percent), Marengo (24.9 percent), Marion (21.2 percent), Monroe (23.4 percent), Perry (31 percent), Pickens (28 percent), Sumter (35.1 percent) and Winston Counties (24.9 percent).  A full list of impacted counties with key poverty data is attached.  More information is also available on the APP website at

In their 2004 report “Poverty and Disasters in the United States,” Sociologists Alice Fothergill and Lori Peek conclude that while poor individuals are more likely to perceive hazards as risky, they are less likely to prepare for hazards or buy insurance; less likely to respond to warnings; more likely to die, suffer injuries, and have proportionately higher material losses; have more psychological trauma; and face more obstacles during the phases of response, recovery, and reconstruction.

In response to the catastrophic tornadoes, APP is compiling resources for individuals to give, volunteer and advocate for those impacted by the storms.  They are regularly updated and available at

About the Alabama Poverty Project:

Alabama is the sixth poorest state in the nation. The Alabama Poverty Project (APP) mobilizes Alabamians to eliminate poverty through strategic relationships with faith communities, higher education institutions and civic organizations. For information and resources, visit our website,


Poverty Rate
All Persons 1 Children 2 Seniors 2 Female Headed Households 2
United States 14.3% 20.0% 9.7% 37.1%
Alabama 17.5% 24.6% 11.8% 45.1%
Autauga 11.2% 16.2% 7.8% 28.3%
Bibb 18.1% 25.7% 12.8% 49.7%
Blount 14.6% 20.4% 12.1% 39.6%
Calhoun 19.0% 26.7% 10.6% 52.6%
Chambers 20.7% 30.2% 12.1% 44.0%
Cherokee 18.4% 28.1% 7.7% 52.8%
Chilton 18.7% 27.5% 10.0% 38.0%
Choctaw 22.8% 29.8% N/A N/A
Clarke 29.1% 37.9% 19.6% 56.2%
Colbert 16.0% 24.8% 9.2% 48.6%
Coosa 16.7% 25.4% N/A N/A
Cullman 19.3% 25.7% 13.5% 39.4%
DeKalb 21.7% 32.0% 15.5% 41.5%
Elmore 14.2% 19.2% 9.9% 29.6%
Etowah 17.2% 26.6% 12.0% 45.7%
Fayette 19.6% 26.9% N/A N/A
Franklin 21.8% 29.7% 12.6% 50.7%
Greene 28.4% 39.7% N/A N/A
Hale 26.6% 35.4% N/A N/A
Jackson 16.4% 24.3% 15.9% 38.9%
Jefferson 16.5% 22.9% 11.1% 36.2%
Lamar 18.2% 25.8% N/A N/A
Lauderdale 14.5% 21.8% 8.0% 48.9%
Lawrence 16.2% 22.9% 10.9% 44.1%
Limestone 13.5% 19.1% 11.3% 32.4%
Madison 10.3% 14.7% 6.3% 36.4%
Marengo 24.9% 32.3% 15.2% 46.4%
Marion 21.2% 30.9% 14.8% 70.5%
Marshall 19.1% 26.2% 14.2% 54.3%
Monroe 23.4% 33.2% 16.6% 67.8%
Morgan 15.9% 23.2% 12.6% 41.9%
Pickens 28.0% 34.1% N/A N/A
Perry 31.0% 48.9% N/A N/A
Shelby 6.9% 9.9% 4.9% 20.1%
St. Clair 13.8% 19.3% 10.3% 35.0%
Sumter 35.1% 42.3% N/A N/A
Talladega 18.9% 26.5% 15.3% 51.3%
Tallapoosa 17.8% 28.1% 9.2% 48.8%
Tuscaloosa 19.9% 22.6% 10.5% 47.9%
Walker 16.0% 22.9% 13.9% 49.8%
Washington 19.3% 26.5% N/A N/A
Winston 24.9% 36.4% 17.2% 53.8%
1 U.S. Census Bureau, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (2009)
2 U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates (2007-2009)



Mobile homes place Alabamians at risk

Monday, April 26th, 2010

“Albertville residents relied for a great deal on friends and neighbors on Sunday during the initial cleanup of the town which was struck by a tornado about 9:30pm Saturday.” Huntsville Times – photo by Dave Dieter

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those in Albertville affected by the tornadoes this weekend. News reports from Albertville indicate that 25 people were injured, most of them residents of the West End Mobile Home Park, where many homes were flipped over or completely destroyed.

Over a 45-year period, Alabama ranks 13th nationwide in the number of tornadoes that hit our state, and 16th in the ratio of tornadoes to total population. However, over that same period, we rank 3rd in the number of tornado-related injuries, and 5th in the risk for tornado-related deaths.

Why the discrepancy? The 2000 census showed that 16.3 percent of Alabama houses were mobile homes, which is 10 percent higher than the nationwide average. So, because a much higher percentage of our population lives in mobile housing, we are disproportionately vulnerable to tornado-related injuries and deaths.

Many low-income Alabamians buy mobile and manufactured homes because they are affordable. However, this choice places them at risk of injury, home loss, and even death. Lightweight materials make mobile homes especially vulnerable to severe weather, so storm shelters are essential in mobile home communities. Mobile homes are also more vulnerable to house fires and flooding (PDF).

What’s the alternative?

Several groups in Alabama are working to bring low-cost, safe, energy-efficient homes to low-income families.

  • Auburn’s Rural Studio has pioneered the $20K house in Hale County
  • HERO (Hale Empowerment Revitalization Organization) in Greensboro, Alabama, counsels families into permanent housing
  • Habitat for Humanity is looking at ways to extend housing options for lower-income families or individuals who may not qualify for traditional habitat homes

Again, our hearts go out to the survivors of the storms this weekend. We encourage you to donate to the Red Cross or other organizations providing immediate disaster relief to our neighbors in Alabama and Mississippi.

Posted by Robyn Hyden