Maddox: City death count decreased to 39

William Evans

The number of confirmed deaths in the city and county of Tuscaloosa has dropped from the city’s previous estimate of 45 to a total of 39, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said in a press conference at City Hall Friday evening.

The drop was due to police and officials reporting some deaths more than once.

The count of people unaccounted for has risen from 446 to 454 and will continue to fluctuate since some reports of multiple people have turned out to represent only one and some people have been located but not reported to the police.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will bring in mobile centers that enable people to register for assistance, Maddox said.

“Our long-term plan is to connect those who have been impacted with FEMA,” he said.

The search and rescue effort will have to be coordinated as the nature of the crisis becomes more evident to city authorities and emergency crew, he said.

“Tomorrow will be a difficult day in getting volunteers in areas where we need them as well as keeping the areas where we are conducting search and rescue operations clear of volunteers,” he said.

Looters and businesses suspected of price gouging will be prosecuted by the state attorney general’s office, he said.

Dealing with the catastrophe with the current lack of resources will be challenging.

“We have a serious shortage of men, material and equipment,” he said. “We’re staring at a catastrophe with two hands tied behind our back.”

Ascertaining the identity of the victims has been difficult for city authorities.

Tuscaloosa city police have been relying upon the race, sex and approximate age of the victims to identify them, said Steven Anderson, TPD chief of police.

Maddox said people who have had homes damaged or destroyed are urged to call 1-800-621-3362.