State of emergency declaration called off for Vicksburg|[12/3/05]

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 5, 2005

Vicksburg will no longer have to continue its declaration of a state of emergency, city attorney Nancy Thomas said.

City officials continued the declaration week-to-week from Aug. 30, the day after Hurricane Katrina hit, until Thursday, to ensure all storm-related cleanup would be completed and the proper paperwork would be filed for federal reimbursement.

Mayor Laurence Leyens said the city has completed all of its obligations.

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In a Wednesday press release, the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the allocations it has agreed to disperse to various entities in Mississippi.

It said Vicksburg has been allotted $77,120, but Marcia Weaver of the city Planning Department, said additional payments will be approved.

&#8220We submitted $350,000 worth of reimbursement documentation, but the entire amount has not been processed by FEMA,” Weaver said.

She said the city has not actually received any money from FEMA yet. But, the press release lists what FEMA has acknowledged it will pay.

Scott Cederholm, with the FEMA public affairs office, said the money allocated in the press release has been sent to the state government. He said it will likely take the state up to 10 business days to process and disperse the money to individual cities and counties.

The press release states the money being allocated to Vicksburg is for emergency protective measures, buildings, equipment, utilities, parks and recreational areas.

The largest portions of the total reimbursement requested by the city, the debris removal and the use of the Vicksburg Convention Center as a shelter, have not been officially accepted or denied by FEMA, Weaver said.

Warren County, not on Wednesday’s release, ended its declaration several weeks ago after being informed the continuing declaration was not relevant to FEMA reimbursements.

County Administrator John Smith confirmed Friday that the total amount the county would seek would be $106,123.08.

Broken out, the county will ask FEMA to reimburse the county coffers $91,139.94 for overtime pay and equipment use in the Road Department, $2,638.61 for overtime pay in the E-911 Dispatch Center, $4,580.08 for overtime pay and generator use in the Office of Emergency Management, $7,764.45 for labor and vehicle use in the Sheriff’s Department.

Officials with FEMA will check the paperwork for accuracy over the next month, with word coming from the county’s liaison after Jan. 1, Smith said.

&#8220I feel pretty confident they will reimburse us that amount,” Smith said.

Smith said the money will return to the county entities from which the expense came.

&#8220My philosophy is that wherever it came from, that’s where it goes back to,” Smith said.

Expenses from the Office of Emergency Management and the Sheriff’s Department will be credited for the revenue in this year’s budget even though Katrina hit before the new fiscal year began Oct. 1, Smith said.

Gail Kavanaugh, child nutrition director for the Vicksburg Warren School District, whom the board of trustees approved to be their contact with FEMA, said they will submit paperwork to FEMA showing at least $65,000 for items such as contract employment, rental equipment, debris removal and maintenance. Any reimbursement on instructional costs such as additional bus routes to and from shelters and hotels and housing evacuee children would have to come from Congress.

The Vicksburg Warren School District was also not included in the press release.

Within the county, however, Hilldale Water District is listed to receive $45,985 and the Yokena-Jeff Davis Water District is approved for $6,541, both due to emergency protective measures.

While Claiborne and Issaquena counties are not listed in the press release, Hinds County is listed for being allocated $4.9 million for utilities, debris removal, parks and recreational areas. Sharkey County is to receive $6,521 for debris removal.

Funds obligated to public assistance in Mississippi currently total $574,067,072, a statement released by FEMA Friday said.

Staff writer Danny Barrett contributed to this report.