Gov. Barbour asks for federal disaster declaration
JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Governor Haley Barbour on Tuesday requested President Obama declare two Mississippi counties as a major disaster area, allowing residents and business owners access to federal government assistance programs.
In his initial request, Governor Barbour has asked for the declaration to apply to Choctaw and Yazoo counties.
In Choctaw County, initial damage assessments show 33 homes destroyed, 30 homes with major damage and 51 homes affected. In Yazoo County, initial damage assessments show 104 homes destroyed, 97 homes with major damage and 114 homes affected.
If approved, residents of those counties would be able to obtain specialized benefits, including individual assistance and unemployment services to aid in the recovery from the devastating spring storms that swept through Mississippi over the past weekend. Local and state governments would be able to use federal funds to help pay for the cost of cleanup and emergency measures.
"This was an enormous tornado and extremely severe weather that cut a path across our state, leaving families without homes and businesses," Governor Barbour said. "I have applied for a federal disaster declaration to make it easier for Mississippians rebuild their lives with programs designed to help in these situations."
Assessments continue in all of the storm-damaged counties. Federal, state and local officials are determining whether the damage in other Mississippi counties qualifies those areas for a federal disaster declaration. Those counties include: Attala, Desoto, Forrest, Holmes, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lamar, Lauderdale, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Oktibbeha, Simpson, Tallahatchie, Union, Warren and Webster.
Governor Barbour will make the request for an expanded declaration if those counties meet the necessary threshold.