FEMA Administrator visits Mississippi as Hurricane Ida recovery begins

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 11:08 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi is still assessing the damage left behind from Hurricane Ida.

And on Wednesday state officials met with the FEMA Administrator. At the time of the Wednesday morning briefing, the state had received reports of Ida damaging at least 164 homes in Mississippi.

Six of those were destroyed, 42 with major damage. And it damaged at least 184 roadways and 53 bridges.

But that’s just the initial assessments.

“We are not done by any means,” explained Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Stephen McCraney. “Recovery is the longer phase.”

MEMA is working on the logistics of getting food and water to those hardest hit areas.

“Get those initial things handled for life safety is number one priority right now,” noted McCraney. “We will get into a phase where we’re looking at infrastructure, roads, bridges and what not. But if I don’t save a person, that bridge doesn’t really mean a lot to me. That’s where our focus is and that’s where all of our effort is headed at this time.”

As of Wednesday morning, 37,000 Mississippians were still waiting on power. That’s down from the 136,000 at the peak. But the temperatures are heating up while those thousands sit in the dark.

“Check on that elderly neighbor,” described Governor Tate Reeves. “Check on that person that may have special needs. Your friends. That’s the best way you can be helpful right now to make sure we limit any secondary effects from the storm.”

“But we did have some main transmission lines that were down,” added McCraney. “So, be a little patient as those crews are out working. If you can stay off the roads by Friday, we should see the whole state back to full power.”

Another request for patience involves the gas demand.

“We are seeing significant increases in neighbors to the west in Louisiana, our friends from Louisiana coming over and getting gasoline which is causing some excess traffic along the coast and also long lines for fuel,” said Reeves. “So, I encourage everyone to be patient.”

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell says some federal supports like ambulances and temporary power restoration teams are still in the state while others have been released to help in Louisiana.

“While Mississippi, fortunately, avoided the worst of Ida, the federal family was here to respond and support the state and local officials as needed,” said Criswell.

There are currently three shelters still open in the state.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 44 people in those. But the state says it’s working with the federal partners about what will be needed as many Louisiana residents may need to remain in the state while they wait to return to their homes.

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