Thursday, September, 22, 2005

County NAACP, firemen, Potts Camp, DHS assist areas struck by hurricane


State Representative Kelvin Buck’s reaction after two trips to Mississippi’s hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast is one of amazement.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” said the Holly Springs legislator. “The devastation, I couldn’t believe it. I can’t think of words to describe it.

“I had seen it on TV, but it was nothing like seeing it in person.”

Buck traveled to the coastal region once as part of a legislative delegation and then again to deliver donated items from the Marshall County Chapter of the NAACP.

“I put water, food and other needed items on my truck and took them down to Biloxi, right off Highway 90,” he said.

A special session of the state legislature is set for Sept. 27 to focus on further hurricane relief efforts.

“The legislature is already dealing with it,” Buck said. “I’ve visited with the people at MEMA (Mississippi Emergency Management Agency) in Jackson. The workers there are doing an excellent job.”

He also stopped by the Employment Security Commission, to see firsthand how they’re dealing with unemployment checks and helping people find jobs.

“They have five mobile units on the coast to address unemployment,” Buck said.

“We seem to be dealing with the short term things well, but the legislature will be working to come up with solutions to some of the long term problems, like tax incentives to help bring businesses, jobs and homes back to the Coast.”

The state already has a tight budget; and Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath could likely mean more of a budget crunch.

“We do hope some of it will be offset by federal monies coming in to help stimulate the economy, plus new construction,” Buck said. “In the end, we may even be better off than before.”

Potts Camp adopts Crosby
The Town of Potts Camp has adopted the Town of Crosby in Wilkinson County as part of the North Mississippi Mayors Association’s hurricane relief efforts.

Each NMMA town was urged to adopt a town that is in need due to the hurricane and do all it could to help.

Potts Camp Mayor Jimmie Collins said Crosby was chosen because of its population of 495, about the same as Potts Camp.

“That town needs everything,” Collins said. “There was a lot of damage.”

Anyone who wants to help is urged to bring items to Potts Camp Town Hall between the hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. People can call 333-7285 or 333-9153 for more information.

“If we can get the items, we will get them there,” Collins said. “Several people have volunteered to make the trip.”

Firemen go to help
Five Holly Springs firemen spent Tuesday through Saturday of last week in rural Pearl River County helping fight fires.

Making the trip to the area six miles from Bogalusa, La., were Chief Ken Holbrook, Xavier Jones, Don Buford, Daniel Holbrook and John West Turner.

They were stationed with the Amackertown Volunteer Fire Department to help cover that department’s territory.

“The reason we were needed is because there were so many places without electricity, they were having a rash of fires when people got electricity back and turned it on. There were more structure fires than normal, and they needed to supplement their departments for a while,” Holbrook said.

Other firemen assisting in all four quadrants of Pearl River County came from places like Nesbit, Southaven and Madison.

The first day there, Holly Springs firemen fought a structure blaze and helped save the building and its contents. Other fires included grass and woods.

“We were responding to an area of 200 square miles,” Holbrook said.

He said 50 percent of the electricity was restored when the Holly Springs firefighters arrived Tuesday, and when they departed Saturday 75 percent had been restored.

Trees were downed at the roots by straight winds and others were twisted off about 15 feet from the ground due to tornadoes.

“People described hearing the roar – the winds of a tornado,” Holbrook said. “The storm (from the hurricane) hammered them for two or three hours.

“Most of the structures had roof damage.”

There will be no local telephone service for months, he said.

“The little places have as much or more devastation (than the municipal areas),” Holbrook said. “They have to have help, too. These people don’t need to be forgotten.

“They were proud to have us there, and it worked out well.”

The Holly Springs firemen stayed in a camper trailer they transported and a fish house near the fire department, which was not designed to be manned. They ate meals at hurricane shelters.

DHS to do rotation
Three Department of Human Service workers from Marshall County left for a 14-day trip to Hattiesburg Monday.

Director Elizabeth Kriss, Anita Gentry and Michelle Allen will be stationed at Columbia Training School in Hattiesburg and bussed one hour to a food stamp delivery site.

Kriss said families dislocated from their homes due to Hurricane Katrina will receive one month of food stamps.

“We are processing applications in counties above the coastal counties,” Kriss said.

Last week DHS workers from Pontotoc, Tippah and Lee counties were disbursed to Brookhaven to distribute food stamps in McComb and Pearl River County, Kriss said.

Kriss said agencies are trying to get aid to evacuees in shelters and communities north of the Gulf Coast while utilities are restored and cleanup goes on in the southern tier of counties hardest hit by Katrina’s storm surge. Kriss said her understanding from news reports is that agencies hope to shelter people as close as possible to their homes until areas are safe for families to return and take stock of their situations.

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