For the second time in just a matter of weeks, the State of Alabama has experienced dangerous and destructive tornadoes. Autauga and Wetumpka counties were hit by an EF2 twister in mid-January. And, just last weekend, Lee County was the target of a massive EF4 tornado with 170 mph winds. It claimed the lives of 23 people, injured many others, and left behind a huge path of destruction that will take weeks, if not months, to clean up. Accordingly, President Trump approved an expedited Major Disaster Declaration for Alabama on March 5, 2019.

As explained by FEMA, a major disaster declaration allows people to participate in federal assistance programs. Such programs provide individual assistance for essentials like emergency shelter, as well as public assistance for things like debris removal, emergency protective measures, etc. Certain major disaster declarations, like the one recently issued for Alabama, also support post-disaster funding for statewide hazard mitigation efforts.

Hazard mitigation is basically any action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property. For some, this may include the installation of tornado sirens, the building of safe rooms, the buying and clearing of property, etc. For others, it may mean bolstering levees, stockpiling sandbags, or even implementing a