The allocation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is in addition to $55 million that Alabama received from HUD last year for long term recovery efforts.
“I don’t like the federal government on a lot of things, folks, but on natural disaster response, they have done a fantastic job,” Bentley said during the check presentation, which was held Wednesday morning at the newly-rebuilt Long Memorial United Methodist Church in Cordova.
Bentley noted that the landscape has changed since his last visit to Cordova. The recent demolition project left few structures standing downtown.
The governor encouraged residents to keep a positive attitude about the town’s future in spite of the long road to recovery that began two years ago.
“You can never replace those lives, but we can replace property, which is what we’re trying to do to make things better,” Bentley said.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs will be responsible for distributing the $49 million in the form of Community Development Block Grants.
Communities may begin applying today for part of the funding to help with housing, business and infrastructure needs that have not already been met through other assistance.
“This money has to be spent in two years. We don’t want to let any grass grow under us, and we’re going to help get this money to the local communities that need it,” ADECA director Jim Byard Jr. said.
Cordova received approximately $1.4 million in the first round of HUD funding to rebuild a grocery store.
Local leaders have announced intentions to pursue a portion of the new funding to build a police/fire station and new City Hall as well as make infrastructure improvements for affordable downtown housing.
While in Cordova on Wednesday, Bentley visited two local businesses as part of his “Road to Economic Recovery” tour.
The governor and a delegation of federal, state and local officials had lunch at Jeff and Von’s Place.
Owners Jeff and Von Traweek previously operated The Rebel Queen, a restaurant and popular hangout in downtown Cordova that was destroyed in the tornadoes.
The diner reopened last summer.
Bentley also met with Tammy Reed, owner of The Flower Pot.
Reed’s floral shop was destroyed in the morning tornado that struck Cordova on April 27.
She moved The Flower Pot to a new location less than three months later, making it the first business to reopen after the storm.
Reed told the governor that she reopened without the benefit of a loan from the Small Business Administration because she was not comfortable taking on debt.
“I scratched to get it started, and I scratched to get it restarted,” Reed said.
She added that her goal is to move the business back to the downtown area one day.