Repairs come as area plans for next storm|[04/09/08]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Three new air conditioners to replace those ripped from Warren Central High School on Friday were put in place Tuesday as workers scurried to secure the area for more bad weather predicted for Thursday and Friday.

“Everything is back and running,” Vicksburg Warren School District Superintendent James Price said this morning. “We had to get it done before the next round of storms.”

Dan Byrd, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said a strong cold front is expected to bring with it the potential for severe weather Thursday afternoon through Friday afternoon, a week after two tornadoes and straight-line winds raked much of Warren County.

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Electricity, which had been interrupted for 12,000 of Warren County’s 25,000 Entergy customers at the height of last week’s storms, was restored to all but about a dozen this morning, spokesman Don Arnold said. However, service for about 200 customers along Cain Ridge Road stopped unexpectantly this morning, he said, and crews were headed to the area.

While many of the 1,100 crews who were brought to Vicksburg after the storm have headed to the Jackson metro areas hard-hit by the same storm, they will be near and on-call in case of another outage this week.

“We will have them in place in case this system does some damage,” he said.

Cable television and Internet service had been restored for the most part this morning, said Vicksburg Video manager Beau Balch.

Schools Superintendent Price said he believes repairs at Warren Central will cost more than $150,000 and he hopes it will be covered by insurance. Minor damage at the school still needs to be addressed at the school on Mississippi 27, he said. No injuries were reported at any of the schools.

“What we’ve repaired are the gaping holes — the big things,” he said. “There are still some things we haven’t addressed. There was a great deal of duct work and other things we have to check. We had some skylight damage that has been temporarily repaired, but we haven’t finished.”

Insurance claims are being made countywide for residents whose homes and cars were damaged from fallen trees. At State Farm Insurance on Drummond Street, 50 claims had been filed, said office manager Crystal Richie. A call to the company’s regional office for area totals was not returned.

Across the state, State Farm reported 1,756 home claims and 299 auto claims from the storm. The insurance company is one of the three largest in the state.

Farm Bureau, another large insurer, reported 50 to 60 claims in Warren County.

“That’s a pretty high number for one event,” said Agent Rick Smith. “It was a pretty significant storm,” he said.

Whether the city and county will receive state or federal funding for storm cleanup and repairs has not been determined, said Gwen Coleman, director of Warren County Emergency Management.

Warren County was one of 12 Mississippi counties for which Gov. Haley Barbour declared a state of emergency. County supervisors at their Monday meeting also declared a local emergency, a move that makes the county eligible for the reimbursements.

“Since there is not enough damage statewide for a presidential declaration, Small Business Administration will send representatives to our area on Thursday to conduct a joint city and county preliminary damage assessment,” Coleman said.

Guidelines for declarations include allowing homeowners and business with major damage to apply for low-interest loans with SBA. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will also allow grants of up to $26,000 for 100 uninsured homes with major damage. If the state has $3.6 million in emergency protective measures, debris removal or damage to a publicly owned facility to quality, FEMA will provide assistance. If qualified, each county must meet a threshold of $3.11 times its per capita population.