MEMA program to assist counties is expanding

The Associated Press

JACKSON – The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said Thursday that 76 counties are now participating in a program that provides funding to help develop emergency plans and hire a director.

The counties must provide matching money.

In 2000, 43 of the state's 82 counties participated in the program, in which the state provides $5,000 to $10,000, with extra money based on population, said MEMA director Robert Latham.

“County emergency management programs are a vital part of a community's preparedness and response capability,” Latham said. “By increasing these programs, this shows our continued commitment to help local governments in establishing and maintaining these valuable programs.”

Since 2000, Latham said tornadoes have caused almost $100 million in damage during the months of November and December. Tornadoes also were responsible for six deaths and 189 injuries in the state during that period.

“This is the time of year when citizens need to be alert,” said MEMA spokeswoman Amy Carruth. “With the large drop in temperatures, and the moisture in the air, these conditions are right for bad weather.”

Latham said residents should create a Disaster Supply Kit, including water, three days' worth of nonperishable food, a first-aid kit, tools, clothing, bedding and all important documents, which should be wrapped in waterproof containers.

Latham said National Oceanic & Atmosphere Administration weather radios are useful because they sound an alarm when severe weather is approaching.