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Cleanup Under Way in Tupelo After Monday’s EF3 Tornado

By Sandra Knispel | Published 02 May 2014 11:19am | comments
Cleanup is under way in west Tupelo's Joyner neighborhood while utility crews are still working on restoring electricity and gas service.

Tupelo, May 2, 2014 -- Utility crews are still working on restoring power to households in west Tupelo that were hit by an EF3 tornado last Monday. MPB’s Sandra Knispel reports.

[Nat sound chainsaws]

Since Tuesday, this has become the daily soundtrack of west Tupelo’s Joyner neighborhood where clean-up of debris and trees is under way. Utility crews are still working on restoring power and repairing gas lines damaged when toppled oaks uprooted them. At 1509 Joyner Avenue the yard is covered in splintered trees. But owner Libba Akers was in for a surprise:

“Actually, we have hired a tree service to come remove the trees and I thought that was them out there working. So I went to speak to them. And it is a service from Ingomar Baptist Church. And they didn’t knock on the door or anything. They just started sawing our trees and taking them to the street.”

Pastor Terry Cu’trer led parts of his congregation to Tupelo: “I pastored in Biloxi and Mobile. We had hurricanes both places. And so I knew how beneficial it is for someone to come and saw up and clean up and those kinds of things. It really makes a difference for the folks."

And Libba Akers is clearly pleased.

“They are representing God’s hands and that’s what they’re doing. It’s overwhelming, it really is.”

Meanwhile, Robert Latham, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, is driving across Mississippi to assess the damage. He says President Obama’s prompt approval of federal disaster assistance for seven Mississippi counties is important: “This is a major disaster declaration, which opens up the entire gamut of public and private assistance – to home owners, to local governments to help them recover.”

To date, 23 counties have reported a total of 1,200 homes destroyed or severely damaged and nearly 2,500 homes suffered some kind of damage.

“Right now there are certain counties that have been designated but we expect that more counties will be added to that declaration as we get more damage assessments,” Latham says.

With more than 87 businesses in Mississippi destroyed, the FEMA money will cushion the negative economic effect by creating new jobs in construction, repair and cleanup.

“The other problem with disasters is the economic impact," Latham says. "So once the money starts flowing it becomes an economic engine for the economy of the community.”

In the next few days, FEMA will set up mobile disaster recovery centers in the worst affected areas where residents can come and get help filing for disaster relief funds. It’ll be a one-stop-shop, says Latham, with Red Cross and volunteer stations attached that will dole out non-federal aid such as food, toiletries and clothing.

Sandra Knispel, MPB News.


Cleanup is under way in west Tupelo's Joyner neighborhood while utility crews are still working on restoring electricity and gas service.



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