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Storm briefs – 09/04/05

Schools announce schedule

The Brookhaven and Lincoln County school districts will remainclosed until at least Thursday, according to school officials.

A decision by officials in both districts on whether the schoolswill resume operations Thursday will be made Wednesday, officialssaid.

Brookhaven Academy students will return to school Tuesday,officials said.

Copiah-Lincoln Community College has suspended classes untilMonday, Sept. 12, at the Wesson and Natchez campuses and at theSimpson County Center.

Administrative offices at the campuses will be open whenposssible to assist students. Office staff should report to workTuesday, according to a press release.

Students who need to use college facilities to access theironline MSVCC courses may do so between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesdaythrought Friday. Computer lab availibility at the Simpson CountyCenter will be determined by the restoration of power.

Cellular status

Cellular South’s Emergency Task Force is rapidly working torestore service to customers throughout its areas affected byHurricane Katrina, company officials said. The company will workaround the clock to monitor and restore wireless service that hasbeen impacted by widespread power outages. In hardest hit areas,the company is deploying COWs (Cellular on Wheels) as temporarycellular sites that support service in areas where power is lost ornetwork damage has occurred.

In the meantime, Hu Meena, Cellular south president askscustomers to limit their calling to essential communications onlyto allow as many emergency calls to successfully be connected aspossible.

Additionally, wireless crews from around the country are comingin to assist with restoration.

“The safety of our communities is Cellular South’s top priorityand hundreds of technicians and engineers are working together withlocal officials to quickly restore service in affected areas,”Meena said.

BellSouth crews assessing damage, restoring service

BellSouth crews throughout Mississippi are surveying theextensive damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina and prioritizing itsrestoration efforts, said Mike Walker, director of externalaffairs. The company is focused on restoring services tocustomers.

Katrina affected approximately 1.75 million lines across thecompany’s region. As of Thursday, service had been restored toalmost 129,000 customers. Technicians are working overtime andWalker requested customer’s have patience.

During power outages, cordless phones and others that rely oncommercial power may not operate until electricity is restored,even if the telephone line is working, he said. Walker suggestedcustomers connect a traditional telephone that does not requireelectricity to their line to see if service has been restored.

Fuel tankers needed

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the state of Mississippi is inneed of fuel for continued emergency operations. A substantialsupply of fuel has been found, but there is a shortage of tankertrucks to deliver the fuel to the state. Companies or individualsinterested in being hired to deliver fuel with their tanker trucksshould call FEMA at 703-669-7433.

MEMA calls for medical professionals

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is lookingfor licensed health care professionals to volunteer their time andexpertise. Licensed health care professionals who want to volunteershould call 1-800-272-2707.

Temporary jobs being created

Federal grant funding totaling $50 million is being awarded tothe state of Mississippi, specifically to hire temporary workersfor ongoing hurricane recovery and rebuilding efforts, U.S. SenatorTrent Lott said today, following notification by U.S. Secretary ofLabor Elaine L. Chao.

“This funding will help us expedite Mississippi’s recoveryefforts, and I’m confident that it will be well used,” Lott said.”The devastation of Hurricane Katrina is unprecedented, buttogether we can and will rebuild. The more hands we have to cleandebris, distribute supplies and help each other, the fasterMississippians will be able to resume some type of normallife.”

Missing paychecks are worrying many Mississippians, Chaosaid.

“Many Mississippians are missing a paycheck because their placeof employment has shut down or they can’t earn a living becausetheir business or livelihood has been devastated. This $50 millionNational Emergency Grant will create approximately 10,000 temporaryjobs so Mississippians can help in the cleanup and recovery oftheir communities and earn a paycheck, too.”

Almost $17 million will be released immediately with theremainder being released in increments as the recovery progresses.The funding is applicable in the 52 Mississippi counties which weredesignated disaster areas prior to Hurricane Katrina’s landfall.The package will be administered through the Mississippi Departmentof Employment Security.