Thursday, February 14, 2008
Marshall spared devastation
By SUE WATSON
By mercy and grace, most of Marshall County got the all clear signal from above during monster storms last week, February 5, that caused over 55 deaths in the Southern states.
Mississippi had no loss of life, but neighboring county Lafayette was hit hard north of the city and further north to the west of Highway 7 South near Abbeville.
Locally, the first wave of storms clipped the Bethlehem area around 6 p.m., wreaking havoc on David Whaley’s barn and overturning his stock trailers.
Large trees were twisted down in the Bethlehem Road/Potts Camp area with lots of cleanup work necessary overnight so school buses could run Wednesday. Volunteers from both Potts Camp and Waterford fire departments turned out to see after the cleanup.
“Bethlehem was lucky,” said supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett at the Monday morning board of supervisors’ meeting. “Trees three feet wide were blown and twisted.”
Supervisor Keith Taylor reported trees down off Farley Road and Deer Creek Road in District 3. He was out at 3:30 a.m. to help get a carport top out of the road on Deer Creek Road, he said. The Town of Byhalia was out of power for about one hour and a half, he said.
“We were fortunate, one more time,” said Hugh Hollowell, emergency management coordinator after the storms cleared out last week.
In the Lake Center area, people awoke Wednesday to lots of yellow or pink insulation and some twisted aluminum and wood, apparently coming from the Industrial Park area in Oxford and dropped over the county.
On Charles Thomas’ cattle farm at Lake Center the fields were adorned with sheets of twisted aluminum roofing and siding, some as large as 30 feet long and six to eight feet wide, as well as lots of bits of industrial grade insulation. Bits of roofing shingles were also found in his cow pasture and hay fields.
The highways were adorned with bits of insulation and an occasional piece of twisted aluminum siding or roofing along Highway 178 in the Lake Center area.
Fortunately, no deaths from the twisters were reported in Mississippi.
Just one week prior (Tuesday, Jan. 29) the area was threatened with high winds and freezing rain, but luckily not to ice storm proportions.
Electricity customers in the Highway 311 area experienced some temporary power outages related to breaking of some cross-arms on utility poles, according to John Collins, general manager of the Holly Springs Utility Department. Service areas in the Lamar, Mt. Pleasant and Ashland areas along Highway 72 were affected but power was restored in that area by just after midnight, he said.
“The next morning we started getting calls from single customers without power,” Collins said. “We got that fixed about mid-day Wednesday (Jan. 30).
But warming temperatures in the afternoon melted most of the ice accumulation on limbs and lines, thus averting worse problems with downed power lines.
Collins said the utility department is working to set up a larger call center in the office where customers can either talk to a person or leave a message.
Fortunately, there were no widespread outages the week following, when the twisters came through.
The utility worked last season to clear rights-of-way and limbs hanging over the power lines and to clear undergrowth and trees, Collins said.
More trimming will be taking place this year.
“That doesn’t help with stuff outside the right-of-way when whole trees fall,” he said. “We are trying to improve the way we handle events and our response in future events.”
Five crews were out working the Tuesday night (Jan. 29) trouble, he said, and crews worked in areas south of Holly Springs and in Laws Hill Wednesday.
SBA loans available to storm victims
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Womack announced that residents in 12 Mississippi counties affected by severe weather Feb. 5 are eligible to register for U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest loans.
Governor Haley Barbour declared a State of Emergency and requested SBA assistance following the storms that damaged more than 350 homes and businesses throughout North Mississippi.
SBA will open two temporary loan assistance centers in the affected areas:
Disaster victims who live in Alcorn and Lafayette counties and the contiguous counties of Calhoun, Marshall, Panola, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Tate, Tippah, Tishomingo, Union and Yalobusha are eligible to apply for the loans. Additionally, businesses in Desoto County will be eligible for low-interest loans to cover economic loss due to their being a contiguous county of Shelby County, Tenn.
SBA offers loans for homeowners and renters to repair or replace disaster damaged personal property such as furniture and clothing or to repair disaster damaged primary residences. Loans to businesses of all sizes and non-profit organizations are available to repair damage to real estate, machinery, equipment and inventory.
Interest rates will range from 2.750 to 5.50 percent for homeowners and renters, and from 4 to 8 percent for businesses and non-profit organizations.
For more information about SBA’s disaster loan program, residents can visit any loan assistance center, call the Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or 800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired, or visit SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov.
The deadline for applying for loans is April 4.
Three Tennessee counties, Hardeman, Hardin and McNairy also qualify for assistance as contiguous counties. Additional disaster information for Tennessee counties may be viewed at www.tnema.org.
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