Outlying areas slow to recover

Published 5:00 am Friday, September 2, 2005

Counties continue to struggle with power outages and loss ofcommunications as they try to provide survival supplies tothousands of residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The good news in the situation is that most county roads are”passable,” Lawrence County Civil Defense Director Robert Pattersonsaid.

Also, he said, some Monticello residents may regain power todayif they feed off one of the main power lines into the town.

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“The hospital will possibly come up today,” Patterson said,citing the medical facility as one of the county’s highestpriorities for electrical power.

Unofficially, he said, power to other areas of the town andcounty may be long in coming. Current unofficial estimates given tohim by officials in the power industry is that Monticello may befive to seven days more without power, while outlying areas, suchas Topeka and New Hebron, may have to wait two to three weeks orlonger.

“Our main problem right now is running out of food and fuel,” hesaid.

There is no gas available in town, Patterson said, because theservice stations need power to run their pumps.

“We’ve got fuel, but no one can get fuel out of the tanks,” hesaid.

Emergency services, such as ambulance and fire, are operatingnormally, although gasoline is a concern.

“We’re hanging in there,” Patterson said.

County garbage crews have been operating on their regularschedule for several days, Patterson said, and town crews areexpected to return to their normal routine Monday.

Distribution points for water and ice have been set up atMonticello at the old Kellwood Building, in New Hebron at NewHebron Attendance Center and in Silver Creek at City Hall, he said.A shipment was received Thursday night and distribution of thatshipment began at 8:30 a.m. today.

Patterson said there was no predicting when the next shipmentmight come.

“We don’t ever know. I call and beg them for it, but it comeswhen it comes,” he said.

Ice is being delivered from St. Louis and from Georgia, hesaid.

“They have to go pick it up and truck it back. It takes time,”Patterson said.

Franklin County Civil Defense Director Mark Thornton said thewestern half of his county is still without power. Utility crewshave managed to restore electricity to homes from Roxie toBude.

Ice and water was distributed Thursday, and more was scheduledto be distributed around 9 a.m. today at the county fairgrounds inBude, he said. Another shipment is expected to arrive forvolunteers to distribute at the same time and locationtomorrow.

Volunteers are needed to help with the distribution, Thorntonsaid. Prospective volunteers can either arrive early at thedistribution site or call him at (601) 384-1720 to receive aschedule.

The fuel situation in Franklin County is daunting, he said.Officials have managed to secure enough fuel to supply emergencyvehicles for about two more days.

“Then we’ll be in trouble,” Thornton said. “The hospital istrying to find fuel to keep their workers coming in each day.”

Much of the county is still without water, he said, but the townof Bude restarted its service late Thursday evening. Meadvillerestored its water service Tuesday night. A boil-water notice is ineffect for at least two weeks in those towns.

The Franklin County Water Association has managed to keepservice running for about half of its customers, Thornton said. Heestimated it may be a week or more before the rest of theircustomers get service.

“They’ve been in operation the whole time,” he said. “They’vebeen going from well to well to keep the pressure up.”

In Pike County, Civil Defense Director Richard Coghlan saidparts of the city and county have power.

Fuel, however, remains a serious issue. He reported waits ofmore than three hours at the few service stations able to pumpgasoline in McComb. Those stations do not remain open long beforethey are out of gas, he said.

The gas situation for emergency vehicles is manageable but stilla concern, he said. The county has seized the fuel reserves of theschool district and others to maintain its emergency fleet.

Pike County is distributing ice and water daily from 10 a.m. to4 p.m. at the county fairgrounds. Satellite distribution points areestablished in outlying areas when the supply is available, hesaid.

Coghlan requested people outside of Pike County to visitdistribution points in their home county. He said there is notenough of a supply to provide those necessary items to peopleoutside Pike County.