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Recovery Continues After South Miss. Tornadoes

By Daniel Cherry | Published 15 Feb 2013 07:34pm | comments
Residents in Southeast Mississippi are still recovering from tornadoes that raked the area just over a week ago. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, disaster assistance could be available to some residents.
More than 800 homes were damaged or destroyed in last week's tornado. Representatives from FEMA and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency are going door to door in hard-hit communities. They're looking for eligible homeowners, renters, and business owners recovering from the storm. Robert Latham is Director of MEMA. 
"The most important thing is getting the shelters shut down. Getting those people in shelters in a little bit more semi-permanent housing, take care of them and their families first. And recovery is going to be difficult, it always is. Removal of the debris is going to take a long time. People are going to have to rebuild, repair, or find additional living situations."
Latham says since the President approved a federal disaster declaration, affected residents in Forrest and Lamar Counties could be eligible for assistance. Also, Latham says teams are looking at damage to infrastructure, as well as damages in neighboring counties, in hopes of expanding the recognized disaster area.
"We can go in with an additional request to add on public assistance to those, specifically, two counties, maybe more. And hope to have the data that we can request to add on individual assistance for a couple more counties too."
While cleanup continues, disaster responders credit the work of Mississippi's emergency alert system for saving lives. Alan Gerard, the Meteorologist in Charge at the National Weather Service in Jackson, is praising a new radar system that allowed weather watchers to more accurately track the tornado and alert citizens.
"Obviously we want people to take action for all tornado warnings, but if you can communicate to people just how serious the threat is, that helps with reaction and response."
About 80 people were injured in the tornado, but none were considered life-threatening. Responders say without swift action, the storm could have been much more costly.




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