Cleanup efforts by the Houston County Road and Bridge Department of damage from a tornado that hit Cottonwood on January 9 will take 10 to 12 weeks to complete.

According to WDHN, Cottonwood town hall, city water department, multiple downtown buildings and more were demolished by the tornado on January 9.

The tornado killed Charlotte Paschal, 81, who was inside a mobile home that was flipped several times.

Houston County Commission Chairman Brandon Shoupe said at a commission meeting on Monday that tornado damage cleanup efforts by the county in Cottonwood would take 10 to 12 weeks with a cost of up to $1.3 million.

"Houston County Road and Bridge has already started those cleanup efforts. That started last week in earnest. That operation to clear the debris along the track of that tornado is going to last for about 10 to 12 weeks. That is going to come at a cost of about $110,000 per week and there will be no federal or state reimbursement for those funds. When I rode down there the Tuesday of the storm, I would've thought that would've easily classified as a federal disaster area but it's a little bit more complicated than just how much of a disaster that you have in a localized area," Shoupe said. "You have to aggregate that with damage that happens to the rest of the state. Because we did not reach I think it's a $9 million threshold at the statewide level, we're not going to qualify for any disaster assistance. Ironically, if we were a county in the state of Florida, we would because Florida met that $9 million threshold or whatever threshold they have to meet. That burden is going to be borne by the taxpayers of Houston County only so we're going to focus on those affected areas." 

He continued, "Unfortunately, because we're going to be cleaning up it's probably going to cause some delays so if you call and report a pothole it may take a little bit longer than possible for us to fix it but we're just concentrating on clean up efforts at this time. I do want to thank the citizens of Houston County and especially the citizens of Cottonwood for coming together. It really is encouraging to see that community spirit and to see how much community spirit we still have."

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email [email protected].

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.