Miss-Lou still assessing damage caused by severe winter storm
Story by Hunter Cloud and Sabrina Robertson
While most of the ice and sleet that covered the ground, rooftops and trees all last week as disappeared, the aftermath of a severe winter storm event can still be seen across the Miss-Lou.
Residents and businesses are still recovering from leaks from damaged pipes and ceilings, downed trees and tree limbs and power outages that left tens of thousands in the cold and in the dark.
Government officials in Adams County and Concordia Parish said its possible that relief money many trickle down from the federal and state governments, but only if damages incurred during last week’s storm are reported by Miss-Lou residents.
Concordia Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness Director Tim Vanier said damages are reported through a survey and will help local, state and federal government officials determine if Concordia Parish qualifies for aid.
He said filling out the survey is the first step toward possibly getting aid. There is no guarantee of any federal aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for filling out the survey.
“That is the beginning of it. That starts opening up doors,” Vanier said. “If the governmental body sees there is a lot of loss then it starts to open up other door ways for (aid). It is a slow process, we are still dealing with Hurricane Laura at this point in time.”
He said damages could be from ice, tree limbs and even burst pipes because of the temperatures in Concordia Parish. Any food lost in the fridge or other damages because of a loss of power can be included in the survey he said.
Nearly $80,000 worth of damages have to be assessed before Concordia Parish is eligible to receive aid. He said this total is an accumulative total of damages in the parish. Once the threshold is met, the data will be given to the state level and then it will be moved to the federal level.
“Each parish has a threshold that you have to meet,” Vanier said. “If you have one or two houses in the whole parish that have damage, more than likely the parish is not going to receive any aid (for damages).”
The surveys for Concordia Parish and Adams County ask owners to submit photos of the damages. Vanier said the photos need to capture the damage home and property owners are faced with.
“If you have a tree limb down on your house take a picture of the tree limb down on your house,” Vanier said. “If you have a car port and because of ice it fell on your car. Take a picture of the actual situation. That is what they are looking to see, what the situation is.”
Residents of Concordia Parish should go to damage.la.gov to report damages.
Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford said in Adams County, the damages a resident can report are limited to structural damage, such as damaged walls and collapsed roofs.
Spoiled food from power outages do not count towards damages that are eligible for state or federal aid.
Filling out the survey is important, Bradford said, because it will help residents in Adams County and Mississippi get aid and in the future, the survey will be used in historical data about the storm.
He said Adams County has to meet a threshold of about $130,000 to $140,000 worth of damages to receive MEMA aid and Mississippi has to reach a threshold of $4.5 million dollars worth of damages to receive federal aid through FEMA.
This survey asks for people to report:
- Where their home or property is
- When the damage occurred
- If anyone in the household has disabilities
- If you have immediate needs such as food, water or medicine
- If you own or rent the property
- If you experienced any outage of water, electricity or gas
- What is damaged, and how severe is the damage
- Bradford said as of Monday, 242 people have submitted the survey reporting damages in Adams County.
According to a press release from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, official reports show that one home and four businesses have been affected. This number is preliminary and could change throughout the assessment process.
Residents of Adams County should go to adamscountyms.net/emergency-management and scroll down towards the bottom of the page to click on the “report damage” link.
Bradford said for those who do not have access to a computer or internet, a friend or loved one can report damages for them. They do not have to fill out the survey themselves.
City of Natchez
Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said the city is working on a way for residents in the city to report damages so the city can get additional aid to residents.
He said he issued a declaration of emergency last Wednesday to make sure Natchez would be eligible for some aid from either MEMA, FEMA or both.
Natchez is assessing how much damage was incurred on their property, he said. The city is working on developing programs to help residents in need of aid, but Gibson said there is nothing definite yet.
“All of that is just an ongoing process right now,” Gibson said.
While not everyone received damage to their homes, almost everyone has tree limbs and debris in their yard from the storm.
Gibson said the city is also working to refine its process for picking up tree-limbs and debris curbside.
“Now that the roads are thawed out and the temperatures are back to yearly averages, it is time to assess the damage,” Gibson said in a social media statement Monday. “The City of Natchez is actively working on a cleanup plan for the ice storm debris. In the meantime, we ask that everyone please put all natural tree and brush debris on the curb clear of the road if possible. Thank you for your patience in the aftermath of this historical weather event. Together we will recover and get back to normal soon!”