By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – City officials selected a private company Wednesday to oversee Tupelo’s tornado recovery efforts, a crucial step in the bureaucratic process to begin removal of widespread debris.
The city selected Picayune-based Executive Recovery Group Inc. as the project manager with responsibilities including selecting contracts for individual services and ensuring all work meets standards required for Tupelo to receive reimbursements from the federal government.
Executive Recovery Group will partner with Tupelo-based Cook Coggin Engineers as part of the city recovery from the April 28 tornado that destroyed or damaged millions of dollars in residential and commercial property in the city and Lee County.
A five-person city committee selecting the recovery project manager was comprised of Mayor Jason Shelton, Chief Operations Officer Don Lewis and City Council members Nettie Davis of Ward 4, Buddy Palmer of Ward 5 and Jim Newell of Ward 3.
Executive Recovery Group was created just less than a year ago and has led tornado recovery and Federal Emergency Management Agency-approved monitoring in Moore, Okla. The company monitors debris removal using electronic technology designed by company vice president Brooks Wallace, an engineer for Hurricane Katrina recovery projects in south Mississippi.
DebrisTech monitoring technology used by the company tracks each ton of debris removed, records the location using GPS and takes photos of each debris load and contractor.
Shelton said both companies involved with recovery management were the best of three finalists the city considered for the job.
“They have the latest and greatest technology and Cook Coggin has the knowledge of our city and local manpower to have boots on the ground,” Shelton said. “They’re a winning combination and will serve the city well.”
The firms began assisting city officials late Wednesday with selecting a contractor for debris removal.
The Lee County Board of Supervisors will follow a similar process related to storm cleanup in the county, formally issuing requests for proposals from companies Wednesday for debris monitoring and removal and will likely select companies Friday.
Debris removal will likely take a month or longer once the process starts, but Shelton has said recovery could last up to five years.