Headlines – 9/2/2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 2, 2005

The Panolian: HEADLINES – September 2, 2005

  From the 9/2/05 issue of The Panolian :                    

Panola County is operating a Red Cross shelter in Batesville at First Baptist Church. The phone number is (662) 563-7655.
A Red Cross shelter has opened in Oxford at First Baptist Church. The phone number is (662) 234-4168.
The Red Cross phone number for the state’s Central Mississippi chapter is (601) 353-5442. For missing person information, call
Panola County’s public school districts and private school are readying for enrollment from refugees’ children.The schools’ district offices are South Panola, 563-9361, and North Panola, 487-2075. The county is also served by a private school, North Delta, 563-4536.
Mail service to hurricane-stricken areas is currently on hold, and items bound for New Orleans, Gulfport and Mobile are currently being held in Memphis, Batesville Postmaster Lawrence Wills said.
     No guarantee of time or speed of delivery is available for Express Mail and other classes, he added.
     Hurricane refugees who anticipate extended stays in other locations can have their mail rerouted by filling in change-of-address forms available on line at usps.gov or at the post office. However, the change of address will not affect mail sent to the old address until the change can be electronically communicated to stricken post offices.
The Batesville Public library and other branches in the county are issuing temporary library cards to Katrina refugees. The Batesville library number is (662) 563-1038.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Individual and Households Program (IHP) provides money and services to people in disasters when losses are not covered by insurance.
     Approved applicants can receive money for temporary lodging expenses, housing assistance, moving and storage, repair or replacement of personal property.
     Other assistance for individuals and families can include disaster unemployment assistance, and money for emergency food, clothing, shelter and medical expenses.
     Apply for FEMA assistance by calling the disaster hotline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or .
The South Panola Parent Center in Batesville is allowing refugees to use its computers to access e-mail and Internet information. The Parent Center phone number is (662) 563-6044.
Storm damage light compared to southern counties
     Donovan Moore (left) and friend Calvin Hawkins walk past Donovan’s hurricane-damaged home Tuesday morning at 415 Broad Street in Batesville. Oak limbs slammed into the home Monday night as Hurricane Katrina pushed north through the county.
By Billy Davis
and Rupert Howell

The westward winds of Hurricane Katrina swirled through Panola County Monday night, snapping trees, yanking off roof shingles and felling power lines, but also sparing the lives of Panolians.

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"I wasn’t lucky, I was blessed," said Jerry Cooley, whose Batesville funeral home at 327 Panola Avenue was spared when an uprooted walnut tree missed the corner of his business.

On Tuesday morning, Cooley showed a reporter how narrowly the tree had missed the embalming room of his business, where he was preparing two bodies for burial.

A half-mile east down Panola Avenue, thick limbs from an ancient oak tree dropped onto a power line and into the street at 124 Panola Avenue, again sparing any injuries due to the storm.

Even farther down Panola Avenue is the Red Cross shelter at the First Baptist Church, where Gulf Coast refugees experienced the lighter affects of the monster storm that had ravaged many of their communities.

On its Web site, The National Weather Service in?Memphis?listed?the severe weather in North Mississippi as a tropical storm, reporting 6.11 inches of rain in Tupelo and Lee County and 7.12 inches in Tishomingo County.

Although rainfall estimates for Panola County weren’t given by the Weather Service, an average of four inches was reported to The Panolian from across the county.

Panola County coroner Gracie Grant-Gulledge confirmed Tuesday morning that no one was reported killed in the county as Katrina rumbled past in a northeasterly pattern.

Although no Panola Countians were reported killed, some relatives of Panolians living nearer the Gulf Coast have yet to be contacted.

Phyllis McBride, wife of Representative Warner McBride, lost her father to rising waters that destroyed the homes and businesses of her brothers and other relatives in the community of Delisle, located near Pass Christian.

Like many concerned family members with relatives living near the Gulf, Milton Loper of Batesville can’t get in touch with his son, Daniel Loper, who lives with his mother in Poplarville.

He last talked to his 14-year-old son Sunday afternoon. Thursday was Daniel’s birthday and the worried father is debating whether to go looking for him.

Talks with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department and The Red Cross have thus far been unproductive according to Loper.

While most Panola Countians were huddled in their homes riding out the storm, others were working amidst Katrina’s battering of wind and rain.

TVEPA general manager Brad Robison said linemen from the electric cooperative fought and overcame what he estimated were 60- and 70-mile-per-hour wind gusts.

"Nobody had ever seen wind like that, and nobody had ever worked in wind like that," Robison said.

The general manager said he expected power would be restored by Friday to most portions of the county covered by TVEPA thanks to the marathon-like work of the linemen.

Once electrical power is fully restored in the county, Robison said, some of the TVEPA linemen will head south to aid in the Gulf Coast’s recovery effort. They will leave over the weekend or by Monday.

"The cooperatives from down there helped us out during the (1994) ice storm, and now it’s time to return the favor," the general manager said.

The TVEPA linemen worked about 36 hours straight, Robison said, stopping only to eat a bite, until he made them stop and rest.

"They came in at 8 a.m. on Monday and worked until about 9 p.m. Tuesday night," Robison said. "They didn’t want to stop, but I finally had to pull them (from work) because they needed the rest."

Panola County road manager Lygunnah Bean said road department workers pulled more than 100 trees from county roadways Monday night and another 50 on Tuesday.

"We got drenching wet," Bean said. "The wind would gust so hard that the rainsuits wouldn’t do you any good."

The winds from Katrina sent telephone pole-sized limbs of an oak tree into a home at 415 Broad Street in Batesville, where the Moore family was sleeping through the storm.

Husband and father Tracy Moore said the family was asleep when the limbs broke away from the tree about 11:45 Monday night and came crashing down into their home.

No one was hurt, but the limbs did considerable damage when they smashed through the roof and attic and pushed through a bathroom ceiling and a bedroom wall.

Tracy and Tina Moore’s two children were asleep in a second bedroom adjacent to the bathroom, but the children slept soundly despite the trouble, the parents said.

"I was sound asleep and woke up when I heard the tree breaking," Tracy Moore said. "We had to wake the kids up to tell them what happened."

The tree limbs smashed through the attic in at least two places, sparing the husband’s gun cabinet but punching through the wife’s Christmas decorations as it tore into the bathroom.

A hive of honey bees had apparently made their home high in the tree, and honey from the hive could be seen trickling down a closet wall. Some of the honey had also collected in a light fixture in the bathroom.

Community Chest accepts funds for storm relief
Panola County Community Chest is accepting donations to be sent to organizations assisting with the Katrina hurricane disaster.

Donations can be made to any local bank according to Mickey Aldridge who said, "Donations can be deposited into the entity’s checking account at any local banks in Batesville."

The Community Chest fund was originally established to offer relief to people facing catastrophic medical expenses, loss of property such as a home fire and other catastrophic disasters.

Donations to the organization are completely tax deductible according to Aldridge who emphasized that each donation will be contributed to the specific need of the donor’s choice.

Questions can be directed to trustees who serve the Panola County Community Chest Fund representing local bank offices including: John Burchfield, BancorpSouth; David LaVergne, Covenant Bank; Teresa Boggan, First Security Bank; David Morgan, State Bank and Trust; and Ann Hill, Regions Bank.

Receipts for donations over $250 can be obtained by request by contacting: Mickey Aldridge, CPA, 105 Public Square, Batesville, MS 38606.


Also see:

After Katrina: Worst damage self-inflicted
by John Howell Sr.


How to help the victims
Panola County’s Red Cross shelter in Batesville currently needs the following items: pre-paid phone cards, household cleaning supplies, bottled water and personal hygiene produces.
     Before purchasing and bringing these supplies, however, call the shelter at 563-7655 to see if your donation is still needed. Ask for Mike Wilson or Beverly Martindale.
     The Batesville shelter also needs cash donations.
Panola County churches and other volunteers are currently signing up to supply lunch and dinner meals to hurricane refugees at the Red Cross shelter. The schedule is full through Saturday, September 10.
     To sign up, call Mike Wilson at the shelter, 563-7655.
The North Panola School District has announced a district-wide effort to help the hurricane victims. Students and parents are asked to provide nonperishable food items, soap, paper towels, and any other items that victims can use. The donations can be made at the district’s schools or its district office.
     For more information call Superintendent Robert Massy at 662-487-2305.
Donations destined for the Gulf Coast are being accepted in front of the Fred’s store in Batesville. A tractor trailer is parked there to load up the supplies.
     Most needed items are non-perishable items, baby supplies, toiletries, hygiene products and bottled water.
Schools will do ‘whatever we can’
County may see flood students
By Jason C. Mattox

With an estimated 800-plus new faces in Panola County as a result of Hurricane Katrina, the South Panola and North Panola School Districts and North Delta Schools are preparing for what could be an influx of new students.

North Panola has already enrolled students at Greenhill Elementary, said Superintendent Robert Massey. The South Panola District has yet to have an evacuee enroll in the district, but proper steps are being taken to ease the transition, said South Panola Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer.

"We realize there are a lot of people that don’t know if they will be here two days or two weeks," he said. "We also know there will be some who relocate to Panola County to live with family, and we have a plan in place to take care of the potential new students."

Shaffer said he has handed out necessary paperwork and instructions to administrators and teachers.

"We are trying our best to expedite residency and shot requirements," he said. "There are ways to cut through the red tape and best serve those children."

Panola County is served by two public school districts, South Panola and North Panola, and also has a private Batesville school, North Delta.

While Shaffer said it is virtually impossible to estimate how many new students the district may see, he knows there could be a great many.

"There is a chance the number or students could swamp us," he said. "If we see a large flow of new students coming through, we might have to look at hiring new teachers and expanding classrooms.

"We will look at that possibility if it happens," Shaffer added. "We are going to do whatever we can to serve the students.

"We have done everything we can to prepare our teachers, and we will monitor our enrollment by grade and teacher," Shaffer added. "This district is going to do whatever we can to maintain our academic standards while best serving any new students we may see as a result of this catastrophe."

Hundreds find shelter in local motels,
     Baptist Red Cross shelter
By Billy Davis
and Jason Mattox

An estimated 800 evacuees from the Gulf Coast have taken refuge in Panola County after fleeing the wrath of Hurricane Katrina, and that number is expected to grow in coming days.

Three-fourths of the hotel rooms in the county are occupied by coastal residents, and a Red Cross shelter at Batesville’s First Baptist Church is growing to capacity.

The number of refugees coming to Panola County could swell to 1,000 by Friday, mid-week interviews with hotel staff and the shelter revealed.

That count doesn’t include coastal residents who have taken refuge with families and friends in the county.

Red Cross volunteer Beverly Martindale said the shelter was taking care of 128 people by Wednesday but that number was expected to reach 200, the shelter’s maximum capacity.

"We’ve heard from hotels in Grenada that they’re sending people to us," Martindale said. "Apparently the people have run out of money, and they’re getting kicked out."

Another Red Cross shelter has opened its doors in Oxford and will accept up to 100 people, Martin said.

The Red Cross shelter in Batesville is operating from the church’s Family Life Center, where refugees from Katrina are sleeping on cots in the gym and eating meals in the dining area.

Martindale said area churches are feeding lunch and dinner to the shelter’s refugees, a chore that’s relieving the burden on kitchen volunteers who are now serving only breakfast.

J. Courtney Selvy, association missions director for Panola County’s Southern Baptist churches, is telling area congregations the Red Cross shelter needs volunteers, groceries and clothing.

"We really need volunteers to help cook meals so the people who are volunteering at the shelter won’t get burnt out," Selvy told The Panolian.

The family life center is signing up churches for the lunch and supper meals. The phone number is 563-7655.

First Baptist pastor Greg Johnston said the church is committed to its assistance with the Red Cross so long as the refugees need a place to live.

"We’re committed to staying open as long as needed and meeting the need as long as it’s needed," Johnston said on Thursday.

A free meal for evacuees is planned for Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Patton Lane Community Center in Batesville.

The meal is sponsored by the Macedonia-Concord Community Center, which is also providing free transportation to the center.

The Batesville Red Cross shelter opened its door Sunday, May 28 and was filled with more than 100 evacuees by mid-week.

Some of the evacuees were sleeping on the gym floor before cots were unloaded for them earlier in the week.

Civil Defense Director Son Hudson said 185 cots have been sent to the Batesville shelter. If more refugees arrive, he said, he doesn’t know where more cots would come from.

"We’ve gotten our hands on all the cots we can get our hands on," Hudson said.

Phone calls made to area hotels and motels on Wednesday showed that most rooms in Batesville and Sardis are occupied by coastal residents.

All totalled, Gulf Coast refugees are occupying 329 of 436 hotel and motel rooms in Panola County.

Fifty of the 66 rooms at the Hampton Inn in Batesville are occupied, an employee said, and the Super 8 motel in Sardis is filled completely with stranded refugees.

Super 8 desk clerk Stacey Turpin said some families say they plan to stay for two weeks while others are planning their actions "day to day."

"It’s really sad looking at families that are losing hope," Turpin said.

Martindale questioned how long the stranded families now renting hotel rooms could afford paying for rooms and restaurant meals for their families.

"You know they’re running low on cash or maxing out their credit cards," Martindale said.

The Batesville shelter needs cash donations to help pay for refugees’ medicines and also to pay for gas for their vehicles, the volunteer also said.

"Some of these folks have family in other states, and they could get to them if we can fill up their gas tank," Martindale said.

Public school football stadiums quiet tonight
By Myra Bean

High school stadiums damaged and undamaged across the state will be silent tonight.

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and areas of South Mississippi has forced the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) to make this decision regarding public schools. Dr. Ennis Proctor made the announcement a little before noon on Wednesday.

The MHSAA has now pushed the football season back one week. Teams playing out-of-state teams this week or next week have the option of playing the games as scheduled, according to Proctor.

The state championships have also been moved back a week to be played December 9-10 instead of December 2-3.

South Panola High School was scheduled to play Moss Point in Moss Point tonight but with major highways in that area closed and the city under water, there would be nowhere for the teams to play.

There were no reports available on the condition of the stadium and school, which are located within view of the Gulf of Mexico. The only high school listed as damaged in the area is D’Iberville High School.

Many elementary schools in the area were reported by The Sun Herald and the Mississippi Press to have sustained damage.

Since South Panola will not be traveling to Moss Point, the school will remain on its regular schedule and not dismiss early, according to a memo from the South Panola School District office.

North Panola was set to host Coldwater in non-conference action.

The teams are slated to return to action next Friday night. South Panola will travel to Germantown High School in Germantown, Tenn. while North Panola will host Coldwater.

Game times are 7 p.m.

South Panola head coach Ricky Woods wants to keep Carver High School in its slot on September 16 at home, have September 23 as an open date and start conference play September 30. That schedule is not yet approved by Proctor as of Thursday.

The Moss Point/South Panola game is not expected to be rescheduled, according to Woods.

The Mississippi Private School Association gave permission for schools not affected by the storm to play if both schools mutually consent.

North Delta and Lee Academy agreed to play their first conference game tonight against each other in Clarksdale at 7:30 p.m.


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