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State Explains ‘Worst Case’ Flood Plans

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 07 May 2011 04:50pm | comments
MEMA Director Mike Womack says the state can house 20-thousand people.

With the Mississippi River expected to start cresting this week, top state officials are laying out their plans for how to handle the record flooding. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that they are making plans for the "worst case scenario".

The Mississippi River is expected to hit flood stages that have never been seen before, and start cresting this week.

Governor Haley Barbour has assembled a team of state agency heads to prepare response plans for before and after the flood.

Mississippi Emergency Management Director Mike Womack says shelters are in place that can house several thousand people.

"Most likely scenario you are looking at least 2-thousand maybe 3-thousand. Worst case, it could go up to 2-thousand. We are planning for both of those," Womack said.

The flood could last a month or more, and in addition to putting people out of their homes, it could put tens of thousands of people out of work.

Les Range with the Department of Employment Security says the state will pay unemployment and more help could come from the federal government.

"People who are self-employed will than become eligible for unemployment benefits, usually they are not. If they can't get to the location where the business is located because of flooding they will be eligible for benefits. If the head of the household were to die, then the new head of household would be eligible for unemployment benefits," Range said.

Trudy Fisher, The director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, is working to lessen the environmental damage from the flood.

"We are taking a lot of proactive measure with industry, with waste water treatment facilities, with our gasoline stations. Trying to minimize impact from the flood, but quite simply put there is only so much you an do when you are talking about waters of this magnitude," Fisher said.

The National Guard is prepared to call up to 4-thousand Mississippi soldiers to help with flood response.

The extent of the damage depends on if the river levees hold...the Army Corp of Engineers says they are reinforcing key levees and feel confident they can withstand the flood.

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MEMA Director Mike Womack says the state can house 20-thousand people.


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