MEMA: Budget cuts may affect scale of Lee response

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - MEMA is telling South Mississippi counties trying to prepare for Lee that they probably won't get everything they want, but the state will try to give them what they need. Officials said a tough economy and budget cuts could affect the scale of the response.

Jackson County EOC Director Don Langham joined other South Mississippi leaders in a conference call to update MEMA on what's been done to prepare for heavy rain and possible flooding. Leaders also let the state know what kind of help they may need. Hancock County officials asked about the possibility of National Guard help.

"The city of Waveland only has one police officer and one fireman on duty at all times now due to the budget cuts," said John Albert Evans, Hancock County E.O.C. Deputy Director. "So the county is having to make up all of Waveland's needs. The county said we'll be tied up with county stuff, so Waveland is going to be left out in the dark."

State officials said money is tight and they don't expect any federal help.

Tom McAlister is the MEMA Response Coordinator. He said, "We're going to provide the resources that you need but we're going to provide them in the least expensive fashion. So if you need additional police or additional search and rescue, we're going to try to use civilian first. I don't think this thing is going to get declared which means we're going to have to eat all the cost."

Langham said his staff is already accessing what Jackson County can and can't do without.

"Everybody across the country is having budget problems so as minimal as an impact we can put on it then the better,"said Langham.

"We're going to try to hold the response down as low as we can and meet the need but not over meet," McAlister said. "We're going to have to do the 'You've got to haves' and can't do the 'I want to haves'."

MEMA officials said sending in the National Guard to do any patrolling may be difficult since most of the mp's are currently preparing to go to Kuwait.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.