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A Natural gas worker inspects a house that was destroyed when a tornado ripped through Pratt City last Wednesday afternoon on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 in Pratt City, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The tornado that obliterated contractor Robert Rapley’s house also swept away his livelihood, destroying his saws, his paint sprayer and his truck. Like thousands of others in a region already struggling with high unemployment, Rapley now faces the prospect of trying to recover with no way to earn a living.

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