EDITORIAL: Appropriate response

By NEMS Daily Journal

Mississippi’s emergency response organizations on Monday continued work started immediately after Saturday’s powerful, deadly tornadoes, and a spokesman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said federal assistance for individuals seems likely, including temporary housing.
Greg Flynn, Public Information Officer for MEMA, said Monday afternoon the death toll from Saturday’s category EF4 storms remains at 10, including three children. He said a search of isolated areas in the long path of the storm system has “thankfully” revealed no other fatalities.
Mississippians generally know about tornadoes and the threat they pose – mostly during the spring and fall seasonal changes – but the death and damage that can happen when a twister strikes never fail to shock.
MEMA has taken the lead coordinating relief and assistance. The storm has been classified as an EF-4 tornado at its peak, the second-strongest strength category.
Disaster experts from MEMA and other agencies have calculated the Saturday storm system as the largest natural disaster in Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 devastated the Gulf Coast and caused extensive damage more than 100 miles inland.
Individuals and organizations who want to help victims of Saturday storms should contact MEMA:
– Visit MEMA’s website, www.msema.org, and click on the donation and volunteer links listed under “NEWS” to find out more information and the most current storm updates.
– United Way’s Mississippi 211, a telephone information and referral line, is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to immediately assist individuals affected by the storm. Dial 211 as you would dial 911, but 211 is not a crisis “hotline.”
– U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss., announced Monday he would open an emergency office in Choctaw County. At least one staff member will be available to serve constituents in need of assistance at the Choctaw County Courthouse, Board of Supervisors Room, from today through Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Choctaw County residents also will be able to reach a staff member by phone at (662) 285-6329 or in the Tupelo office 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The phone number is (662) 841-8808.
– The Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, an official state agency, has asked that charities, businesses and individuals who would like to volunteer, to register at www.volunteermississippi.org or call (888) 353-1793.
According to reports from officials in states hit by violent weather, 61 tornadoes swept through Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina.
Mississippians are generous when the need is great, and for many the weekend twisters damaged life and property.