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Relief assistance arrives

More relief assistance moved into Lincoln County as recoveryefforts continued Tuesday following a Sunday night tornado.

The Mississippi Baptist Association on Disaster Relief, workingwith the American Red Cross, set up a cooking station at FirstBaptist Church Tuesday morning.

“We’ll set up here, and a Red Cross ERV (emergency responsevehicle) will carry the food out,” said Ronnie Ferrell of Isola,Miss.

Ferrell said workers, who came to Brookhaven from across thestate, were preparing meals for 500 Tuesday. He anticipated thestation would be in Brookhaven three or four days.

“We’re here according to the need,” Ferrell said.

Gene Stroker, a Red Cross official from Shreveport, La., saidthe Brookhaven station was one of five being set up in the state.Others were in Vicksburg, Canton, Grenada and LauderdaleCounty.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Stroker said.

Red Cross officials were also doing damage assessments on homesthat were struck by the tornado that moved through northwestLincoln County Sunday night.

Totals showed 111 homes and mobile homes that were eitherdestroyed or sustained major or minor damage. Agency totals did notinclude damage to businesses or farming establishments.

Red Cross worker Jo Ann Mazer estimated that 80 percent of thehomeowners had insurance.

“Most of them already had the insurance man there,” said Mazer,who traveled through the Loyd Star community Monday while workingon the damage assessments.

A civil defense damage assessment showed 140 homes, mobilehomes, businesses or farms that were destroyed or damaged.

Emergency officials have not put a dollar value estimate ondamage and cost of recovery.

Mike Dill, southeast area coordinator for the MississippiEmergency Management Agency (MEMA), said it would be “guess work”at this point. He estimated $200,000 to $300,000 to an areaelectric power association’s lines and poles alone.

“There’s no telling what it’s going to cost the county to pickup all the debris and move it,” said Dill, who also complimentedlocal authorities on their coordinated relief activities. “It’sbeen a very well-run operation.”

Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey said damageassessment data for homes would be added in with damage totals fromnot-for-profit agencies like the Southwest Electric PowerAssociation and the Lincoln Rural Water Association. Infrastructuredamage and debris removal costs will also be added in as state andfederal disaster declarations are sought, he said.

Jimmy June, member services manager for Southwest EPA, saidalmost all customers had power restored following the storm. At onepoint, 3,000 customers were without power.

June the total was down to around 100, and he expected those tobe back on by Wednesday afternoon. He said crews were still workingon replacing several utility poles, meters and power lines.

“People have really been patient,” June said. “We owe them agreat big ‘thank you.'”

A section of Old Church Road between Bouie Mill Road and Highway550 remained closed Tuesday as construction crews for Entergyworked on rebuilding power transmission towers that were downedduring the storm. Entergy officials said the fallen towers andlines, which carry power from generators to substations, were ableto be worked around and did not result in any power outages forcustomers.

Joel Clough, a Red Cross disaster relief coordinator fromFlorida, arrived in Brookhaven Tuesday afternoon to oversee reliefefforts. He said Red Cross workers would be in all areas of thestate that were affected by Sunday’s storm.

“We’re going to be out and about in all the counties,” hesaid.

Clough expressed concerns about reports Monday of someonewearing Red Cross clothing going through the Lincoln County stormarea trying to sell food to victims. He said Red Cross does notwork that way.

“Anything from Red Cross is free,” Clough said. “We don’t askthem to repay us in any way.”

Clough said there were two reports of attempted Red Cross foodsales. He said agency officials were trying to track down moreinformation about the incidents so that it could be turned over toauthorities.

Red Cross officials were also evaluating whether to set up aservice center to help storm victims with assistance claims.

Clough said the agency may set up a center or go into the stormarea to help victims on site. He said anyone needing immediateassistance could call the Red Cross at 866-GET-INFO(866-438-4636).

“Depending on how the damage looks, we may set up a servicecenter,” Clough said.