Cleaning up and assessingCountywide emergency plan OK’d

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A detailed, countywide emergency response plan was approved Tuesday, a day before state and local emergency management officials were to begin an accounting of Tropical Storm Isaac’s damage to Warren County.

Field representatives with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency are expected to spend at least this week surveying areas where trees and limbs fell and public property was damaged so Vicksburg and Warren County can have cleanup and labor costs reimbursed by the federal government, County Administrator John Smith said.

“They’ll take as long as it takes to assess damage,” Smith told county supervisors Tuesday.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Warren County is one of the 48 counties and the Mississippi Choctaw Indian Reservation, which are eligible to have costs covered for debris removal and a range of protective measures, including overtime pay. The City of Vicksburg is expected to apply for help paying for clearing leaves and other debris from public rights of way. FEMA will pay 75 percent of a local government’s expenses incurred during such disasters.

“They’ll be assessing and generating whatever documents they need,” Warren County Emergency Management director John Elfer said Tuesday.

Assistance for individuals and households affected by the storm was made available for Harrison, Hancock, Jackson and Pearl River counties.

Warren’s state of emergency was declared a week ago and is effective through this month. Such declarations are renewable to keep localities in line for federal disaster aid.

A comprehensive plan adopted by the county board Tuesday specifies responses from local government from storms of all types and other hazards. It renews a plan that dated to the 1990s and ended nearly six years of review and changes. Support functions outlined include firefighting, handling hazardous materials and search and rescue capability.

Elfer said he was pleased with how city and county government prepared last week as the slow-moving storm approached the Gulf Coast, then lashed Warren and other inland counties in Mississippi with rain-heavy feeder bands after it made landfall in south Louisiana on Wednesday. Local government and first responders met daily for four days to hear updates from the National Weather Service and firm up details on backup fuel for public vehicles, contact information and other items.

“We executed well,” Elfer said. “Mainly, because we had everybody buy in. If you don’t have buy-in, you don’t have anything.”

Rainfall on Thursday and Friday in Vicksburg reached 3.84 inches, according to the National Weather Service, or more than half the 6.92 inches recorded locally for the entire month.

Wind gusts reached 51 mph in Vicksburg on Wednesday, with sustained winds in the 40 mph-range, updates from the weather service showed last week.