In Aftermath Of Tornado, Alabama Town Debates Trailer Ban

May 31, 2011

For the people who lost their homes in the April 27 tornado in Cordova, Ala., a trailer provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is about all they have for home.

The problem is that since 1957, Cordova has had a city ordinance that bans single-wide trailers. The Birmingham News reports the city's mayor, Jack Scott, said the city is actively enforcing the ordinance and that has lead to a showdown with residents who think enforcing the ordinance now is heartless.

The News reports:

Cordova Mayor Jack Scott said he knows tornado survivors need a place to live, but the city is enforcing the zoning ordinance that he said was passed in 1957. He acknowledged that the ordinance was not enforced in the past.

Scott said the ordinance's purpose is to help develop property in Cordova.

"We're trying to better Cordova," he said. "We're trying to clean up Cordova and keep it clean. We're trying to keep the property values up. We're trying to get it to where people will want to build homes on these vacant lots."

Birmingham's WBRC reports that citizens in Walker County have put up signs protesting the mayor's decision to ban temporary trailers. The station reports that residents have decided to circulate a petition to recall the mayor.

The AP spoke to James Ruston, who lost his home to a tornado. He was happy when he received a FEMA trailer. But then he got a call from the city telling him that kind of trailer was banned in Cordova:

Ruston said he doesn't want to live in a mobile home forever, and he didn't want to leave Cordova to move in with a relative after his FEMA trailer was turned away.

Now, he said, it might not be worth going back.

"If we're going to have a mayor like that I'll just go elsewhere," he said.

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