The rural Alabama community of Beauregard — an unincorporated area of about 10,000 people just east of Auburn — was devastated March 3 by a massive EF-4 tornado that carved a nearly mile-wide path of destruction. It killed 23 people ranging in age from 6 to 89 in the deadliest tornado strike since an EF-5 twister killed 24 people in Moore, Okla., in 2013.
East Alabama Medical Center is the largest hospital in the region and wants to help families rebuild their lives. They turned to someone a half-hour away, someone with whom they have partnered before to build affordable homes — Kim Roberts, executive director of the Chattahoochee Valley Fuller Center.
Roberts was among those who visited Beauregard on Monday to see how The Fuller Center for Housing and specifically The Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project could help. The result is a plan to begin three new houses next month and then bring the annual Millard Fuller Legacy Build to Beauregard in September for a six-home blitz week.
“When we got there, they basically said, ‘Whatever you need, we’re gonna make it happen,'” Roberts said of her meeting with local officials who will be handling such issues as inspections that require much different handling and timing during a blitz build than during normal weeks. She gave much credit to State Rep. Debbie Wood for helping to get things moving quickly.
Things are moving so fast that the exact land upon which the homes will be built has yet to be decided but will be in the area hardest hit by the tornado. Roberts said she hopes to learn more specifics by the end of the week but is committed to beginning work on at least one of three homes by the end of April.
“They said the morale is so poor and really down,” Roberts said. “But we’ll do something next month just to get the morale up and get them excited for September coming.”
“The Fuller Center for Housing is honored to be called to help get some of the families there back into decent homes and will hold our annual Millard Fuller Legacy Build there in late September,” said Fuller Center President David Snell, noting that the build will kick off on Sept. 29, 2019. “Beauregard is just 30 miles south of Lanett, Millard Fuller hometown, making it an especially appropriate place to build as we commemorate the 10th anniversary of his passing.”
More details will come soon about Legacy Build registration, lodging options and more. With six houses to be built in just one week, The Fuller Center is counting on volunteers from the local area and across the nation to pitch in for this badly needed recovery effort.
Video shot by storm chasers during the March 3 tornado: