Officials: Recovery picking up pace

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina continued toimprove over the Labor Day weekend as more homes had electricityrestored and the county received more shipments of water, ice andfood.

“It’s coming along slowly, but things are trying to cometogether,” said Brookhaven-Lincoln County Civil Defense DirectorClifford Galey this morning during a daily officials’ briefing.

Galey said Magnolia EPA officials reported about 15,000 stillwithout power while the number of Southwest EPA customers withoutpower in the county was down to about 750.

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Kenny Goza, Entergy customer account manager, said about 4,000of its customers remained without power. He said more than 500employees are in the county working to get electricity back on.

“More are coming every half-day,” Goza said.

Galey reported other improvements as well.

“We have plenty of ice and water,” Galey said.

Galey said a truck with those commodities and heater meals wouldbe at the sports complex by 10 a.m. today. Trucks were also at theRuth Volunteer Fire Department station, and volunteers have also begoing through the county trying to reach those who could not cometo a distribution center.

“We’ve put people in trucks the last two days,” Galey said.

Galey said members of the National Guard and military policewere expected today to assist with ice and water distribution. Hesaid they will replace wildlife conservation officers who are beingsent to the coast.

Across from the government complex this morning, hundreds linedup outside the Department of Human Services offices to apply forTemporary Assistance for Needy Families.

A line, which began forming around 5:30 a.m., stretched aroundthe building into the parking lot, and 32 people were being allowedinside at a time.

Regarding federal assistance, Galey said a preliminary damageassessment team to survey public property and infrastructure damagewas expected by 10 a.m. today.

An individual assessment team was expected today or tomorrow.Residents may call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 to report damage.

The assessments are part of the paperwork process toward thecounty being declared a disaster area.

FEMA representatives Jack Miller and James Gilliam visited withaldermen and supervisors this morning regarding federal assistanceon debris cleanup. Both boards were expected to approve assistancerequests.

Brookhaven Mayor Bob Massengill reminded citizens that limbs,leaves and pine straw should be placed in one pile. Shingles,roofing and other housing material should be placed in a separatepile.

“We’re getting some contaminated piles (of trash), and we’rehaving to leave them for last,” Massengill said.

In medical matters, Galey said King’s Daughters Medical Centerhas requested establishing a medical clinic for evacuees.

“We’re working on that,” Galey said.

Also, Galey said Brookhaven, N.Y., had volunteered to send anambulance and emergency vehicle to the city. He said the ambulancewill be sent where needed when it arrives.

Massengill and Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop represented thecity and county at an area emergency officials’ meeting withPresident Bush Monday at Pearl River Community College inPoplarville. Massengill mentioned a number of communities in worseshape than Lincoln County and relayed Bush’s comments about hisconcern for Mississippi.

“He said that while the national media’s focus has beenelsewhere, Mississippi is on his mind and he’s not going to forgetus,” Massengill said.