Alabama and the seven other states devastated by tornadoes are turning their attention to rebuilding. The task is huge: One estimate, by the risk model forecaster EQECAT, put the insured property losses between $2 billion and $5 billion. Contractors hoping to get some of the rebuilding work are flocking to Tuscaloosa—so many showed up to a high school gymnasium on Saturday that they couldn't all fit. But it's unclear what course the rebuilding will take. With thousands likely homeless—5,700 structures were damaged or destroyed in Tuscaloosa alone—it's important to get shelters put up as quickly as possible. Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox warned of a “humanitarian crisis” if a quick fix wasn't forthcoming. On the other hand, he acknowledged that FEMA trailers and prefabricated housing became major post-Katrina controversies after Gulf Coast residents criticized them for contributing to blight. "I don't think any of us would like to see substandard housing built in our areas," Maddox said. "But then, how do you tell someone you're not going to be able to have a home?" And then there's the fact that trailers look especially unappealing to someone traumatized by high winds. "What if another tornado comes?" asked one tornado survivor when the FEMA trailers were mentioned.
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