Cordova looks for help rebuilding from FEMA - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Cordova looks for help rebuilding from FEMA

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CORDOVA - AL -

A tornado ravaged community is calling for action now as it waits for the next arson strike. In addition to the devastation left behind by the April 27th tornado that tore through Cordova the Walker County community has suffered at the hands of arsonists. Since the storm,  there have been 3 fires  intentionally set to storm debris. The latest fire happened Sunday night. 

The downtown area of Cordova looks just as it did on April 27th, reason being, there's just no money to clean it all up. The city is counting on getting the cash they need from FEMA and a year and a half later, it may soon be in the bank.

"Your heart is still here. It really is," Mike Gurganus, who grew up in Cordova told us.

Mike Gurganus remembers a different Cordova....

"Main street right here where they had the parade every year," Gurganus said. "Things like that."

His family hasn't been back since the April 27th tornados, but after they heard about the fire, they decided to make the trip home.

"It was like the core of it. It's sad to see it go," Gurganus said.

City leaders suspect Sunday's fire started by arson. Right now, they're looking for witnesses.

"A lot of people will fuss, 'why don't you just let the whole block burn?' But if you did, of course it would be huge and then everything would be burning and we couldn't control it," Chief Dean Harbison, Cordova Fire Department said.

"It's just discouraging looking at that over a year later," Tommy Pugh, who lives in Cordova said. "It's like we're just standing still."

People who live in Cordova, say the building crumbles and piles of twisted metal are a constant reminder and a hindrance to growth.

"No one is going to want to move here or build here or anything as long as they see that pile right in the middle of town," Pugh said.

The cost to clean this up totals more than this city could ever afford.

"The city will never do this without help. $900,000 - might as well be $10 million," Mayor Jack Scott said.

Cordova Mayor Jack Scott says, the city met with FEMA last week and will know whether they'll have financial help by October 31st. He says, Sunday night's fire won't slow down the FEMA process.

"We're going to come back," Scott said. "How long it's going to take, I can't answer that question, but we're going to come back. We're not going anywhere."

"It's sad to see it go, but you also know it's an opportunity to rebuild," Gurganus said.

Auburn University helped the city develop a plan for how the new downtown will look. City leaders gave it a thumbs up and Mayor Scott told us, if FEMA approves the grant, they hope to begin demolition right away.

 

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