Agencies offer help to victims of tornado

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, May 6, 2003

George Earl Smith said his mobile home was “torn all to pieces”during a tornado that swept through northwest Lincoln County onApril 6.

“The wind blew my trailer up against a pine tree, and that’s theonly thing that saved it from flying through the woods,” Smith saidin recalling the incident Monday.

Smith, of 3128 James Dr., and his mother Aline Henderson, wholives next door, were among the first in line at the DisasterRecovery Center in Brookhaven Monday morning to get help in puttingthe pieces back together. The center, staffed by representatives ofthe Federal and Mississippi Emergency Management Agencies (FEMA andMEMA) and the Small Business Administration, is located in theFamilies First Resource Center at 511 North Church St.

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“What we try to do is help walk them through the process,” saidDon Daniel, public information officer for FEMA, about recoverycenter activities.

Since the disaster, Smith has been staying with Henderson, whosaid the roof of her home was damaged. She was thankful that herprayers were answered and the tornado did not damage the home anyworse.

“It lifted it off the ground, but it put it back down,”Henderson said.

Centers in Brookhaven and Meridian opened Monday to assist stormvictims with their application for disaster recoveryassistance.

“Any questions they have about their application, they can comeby and we give them the information,” said Ann Davis, disasterrecovery center manager.

Twenty-eight counties have been declared eligible forassistance. Residents affected by storms and flooding are urged tofirst apply for assistance by calling 1-800-621-3362, but Davissaid telephone lines are available at the center.

“They can come here to make telephone application,” shesaid.

Housing assistance, crisis counseling and hazard mitigation areamong the services available at the recovery center.

“Everybody who comes in here sees them,” Davis said of hazardmitigation officials.

Davis said hazard mitigation representatives offer help withpreventive measures such as tips for storm proofing homes orraising them to guard against flooding possibilities.

Representatives of the U.S. Small Business Administration arealso be available to assist with disaster loan applications. TheSBA disaster loan program provides low interest loans tohomeowners, renters and businesses.

After speaking with officials, Smith estimated it would takeless than a week to get a response on his assistanceapplication.

The disaster recovery center will be open daily from 8 a.m.until 6 p.m. Individuals from any of the affected counties may cometo the recovery center to seek assistance.

Individual assistance is being made available in Amite, Attala,Claiborne, Clarke, Copiah, Franklin, Hinds, Holmes, Issaquena,Jasper, Jefferson, Kemper, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Leake, Lincoln,Madison, Neshoba, Newton, Pike, Rankin, Scott, Simpson, Smith,Walthall, Warren, Wayne and Yazoo counties. As of Monday, more than1,400 storm had received a portion of over $3 million inassistance, Daniel said.

Daniel said how long the center would be open in Brookhaven hadnot been determined.

“It’s according to what kind of response we get,” Daniel said.”We’re going to stay here as long as we can serve the people.”