MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Alabama Governor Robert Bentley came to Mobile County on Thursday morning to get a first-hand look at the damage from the Christmas tornado.
He said the state is still working to see if the area will qualify for disaster assistance.
As cleanup continued at the historic Murphy High School, Governor Robert Bentley took a moment to tour the damage. Bentley was watching Fox10 News from his computer in Tuscaloosa when the tornado struck Christmas night.
Bentley said, "I could see it live with Channel 10. I don't know if any of [the other TV stations] had live streaming or not; I just happened to find yours."
Now he got to see the aftermath for himself.
Bentley said, "It's a shame to see the damage, but the good thing that we have to remember is- we didn't lose any lives, and we don't have any serious injuries."
Bentley also saw some of the devastation in Prichard. Emergency officials said around eight tornadoes affected nine counties in Alabama.
State officials are still assessing the damage, but Governor Bentley said it could be a few more days until we learn whether we'll get federal disaster assistance.
Bentley said there must be a certain damage threshold to meet the requirements for federal aid.
Bentley said, "We'll be putting all the numbers together to see about assistance. But even if we don't get that, we'll try to look for other areas of assistance for the people of Mobile."
Alabama EMA Director Art Faulkner said, "If those numbers warrant, we may call on FEMA to do a joint damage assessment with us to then be able to move forward."
Governor Bentley has an emergency relief fund available, and he said that could be used to help the affected areas recover. Mobile Mayor Sam Jones said the city's disaster reserve fund is likely dry after two tornadoes in one week.
Jones said the city sets aside roughly $600,000 to $700,000 for the disaster reserve fund.
But despite the money issues and the damage, the Governor said there is much to be thankful for.
Bentley said, "It couldn't have hit at a better time. No students were here, so we just have to be thankful for that. Buildings can be replaced but the people can't."
The governor's emergency relief fund was established after the 2011 tornado outbreak.
Donations to the fund are tax-deductible, so if you'd like to help, go to this link.
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