Daniel Cole

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 31, 2012

Cole called to help in Marion County

By Billy Davis

Panola County EMA director Daniel Cole expects to return home by the weekend when a replacement arrives in Marion County, Mississippi.

Marion is located in Southwest Mississippi on the border with Louisiana. The county seat is Columbia and it has a population of about 27,000.

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Cole has been overseeing emergency operations in Marion County since Tuesday night, the same day he learned Miss. Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) was sending him five hours south to prepare for Hurricane Isaac.  

Local responders in Marion are dealing with major flooding that has damaged 70 to 80 homes and destroyed 15 roads, Cole said Thursday morning. Another 70 roads are impassable due to debris.
No one has been injured.

“Right now there are about 5,000 people without electricity,” Cole told The Panolian, pausing often on the phone to discuss operations with first responders.

Cole first talked to The Panolian on Wednesday, when he said Marion County was expecting 20-plus inches of rain.

Cole arrived in Marion about 8 p.m. Tuesday night. He said he and local responders participated in the “waiting game” until the rains rolled in about 2 p.m. Wednesday.   

The call from MEMA came Tuesday morning, when Cole was attending a county budget meeting in Batesville. He stepped out of the boardroom for the we-need-you phone call.

Marion’s EMA director was undergoing a planned surgery at the same time Hurricane Isaac was swirling in the Gulf, triggering a replacement to oversee the coming natural disaster.

Cole said MEMA will reimburse Panola County for his work in Marion County, including his salary and travel.

Cole said Thursday that Chris Olson, the deputy director for DeSoto County, will replace him in Marion.

Cole, 37, has been Panola EMA director since 2008. He had been serving as deputy director since 2005 until the 2008 death of Son Hudson.