EMA director reports 20 homes in county damaged by storms 1/5/2016

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 5, 2016

EMA director reports 20 homes in county damaged by storms

By Rupert Howell
Emergency Management Director Daniel Cole reported Monday that Panola County is still awaiting a visit from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) concerning the December 23 tornado that was followed by flooding, damaging 20 homes, eight of them suffering heavy damage.

Cole explained to supervisors at their Monday morning meeting that the federal agency was spending time in other counties worse hit by the storms, stating that once they arrive, “Hopefully it will lead to a federal proclamation.”

Cole went on to explain that a federal proclamation would allow partial reimbursement for preventive measures taken prior to the storm, clearing roads and bridges, damage assessment and other protective measures such as additional law enforcement needed during the storm and its aftermath.

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The EMA director said a proclamation would also “free up” mitigation funds that could be used to fight flooding and erosion, reminding supervisors that three homes were flooded.
 “We had flooding and tornado damage,” Cole said.

Supervisors passed an order declaring disaster conditions did exist December 23 while Cole was noting it was a part of mounds of paperwork to be completed and added, “It’s well worth it.”
Also damaged were acres of timber, for which  Cole said he was not qualified to estimate damage.

“I’ve requested that information from forestry (Mississippi Department of Forestry),” Cole said, while stating that agricultural infrastructure along the storm’s path, including shops, silos, center pivot irrigation systems and other out buildings, were also reported damaged during the December 23 tornado.

The tornado first touched down in Bolivar County, heading northeast through Coahoma, Quitman, Panola, Marshall, Benton and Tippah Counties in Mississippi before entering Tennessee.

Coahoma, Quitman, Marshall and Benton were the worst hit and were included in Governor Phil Bryant’s original request to FEMA for a federal disaster declaration with local officials under the impression that having those counties declared disasters first then adding additional counties afterward, was the course to take.

On Monday President Obama declared a major disaster exists in the State of Mississippi and ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding during the period of December 23-28, 2015.

 The President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Benton, Coahoma, Marshall, Quitman, and Tippah.