James Jones Column: Selma, Dallas County continue rebuilding from 2023 tornado

Published 5:33 pm Sunday, January 21, 2024

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Memories of the Jan. 12, 2023 tornado remain fresh in the minds of Selma and Dallas County residents.

The powerful storm devastated parts of the area, especially several homes and prominent businesses. Selma and Dallas County citizens continue to recover from the tornado damage as we knew it would take time to do.

The main positive takeaway away from the storm’s aftermath was how city and county officials developed into a united front. Dallas County Probate Judge Jimmy Nunn and Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. led the way and were joined by U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, Rep. Prince Chestnut and State Senator Robert Stewart. The Dallas County Commission and Selma City Council also stepped up in the cause. 

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Gov. Kay Ivey and Senators Katie Britt and Tommy Tuberville provided assistance for the recovery. 

Some people say they can not put their pride aside and get help from Republicans, which Ivey, Britt and Tuberville all are, but not Perkins. Not only did Perkins accept the help of Ivey, Britt and Tuberville, he also thanked them. 

Sewell displays exceptional leadership, using her Washington, D.C. connections to get help from President Joe Biden. Sewell is a Selma native who never forgot her roots. 

Whenever I go home to Tuscaloosa, I often brag to family about getting the chance to talk with Sewell upon her visits to Selma. Sewell also represents them, and she really cares.

“We knew Selma was in need, and I made sure the President also knew it and he responded.” Sewell said. “Praise is due, that we all got this right.”

Thanks to Sewell and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin Wallace who ensured that Selma would get $22 million in financial assistance.

“I promised everyone who applied for federal assistance they would receive funding,” Wallace went on to say, “Those who applied and were initially rejected because of incomplete or erred paperwork were given numerous chances to correct their application or received hands-on assistance with completing their applications from our staff. As a result, no one was denied.”

Selma and Dallas County will eventually recover from the tornado. It just takes time.