Officials update Wren residents on recovery

WREN – Since last week’s tornado significantly damaged her home in Wren, Shair Adams has been cleaning up her property and helping her neighbors in this Monroe County community.
On Thursday night, she joined more than 100 at the Wren Fire Station for a townhall meeting focused on the community’s rebuilding.
“The road to recovery has started, and we will get better,” said Monroe County Emergency Management Director Robert “Bunky” Goza. “We are Monroe County. We are together. And we will come back stronger.”
Although Wren’s damage hasn’t received much of the attention of its Monroe County neighbor, Smithville, this community also suffered severe destruction from last week’s tornadoes, which visited Wren twice on April 27.
After one line of severe weather caused significant damage around 3 that morning, another tornado hit the community near 3 p.m. before eventually heading toward Smithville.
On Thursday, officials from Monroe County, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other groups told Wren residents that they haven’t been forgotten. The groups also provided information about the recovery and answered questions.
Adams said having the information available in one place was important as she works to recover.
“It was good,” she said after a meeting that lasted about an hour and a half. “It gave me insight on what you can expect. It was a good way to get the word directly to people.”
Federal officials urged those affected by the storms to call FEMA as soon as possible in order to begin the process of receiving assistance. They can call (800) 621-FEMA or apply online at www.disasterassistance.gov. Homeowners, renters and business owners are all eligible to apply for aid.
A phone bank has been set up near the Smithville school campus, and people can also use it to apply for FEMA aid. The agency will have representatives there to assist people with individual questions.

Monroe contractors
Meanwhile, the Corps of Engineers will soon hire Monroe County contractors to begin clearing debris in the county. Officials said that that work should begin early next week. They expected it to take about 30 days in Smithville and less time in the rest of the county.
Patti Parker of the United Way told the residents of Wren that although many of the donated goods are being stored in Smithville, they are intended for the affected residents of Wren as well.
“Anything you need, let us know, and we will get it to you,” she said.
Officials spoke with gratitude for the generous outpouring of aid for Monroe County storm victims.
Goza commended the work of the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, saying that it has been tremendous.
Additionally, more than 2,500 people have volunteered to help in Monroe County, Goza said.
Thanks to three donors, every affected Monroe and Chickasaw county resident will receive at least $1,000. As of Thursday evening, more than $360,000 had been given directly to Monroe County residents and about $100,000 had been awarded to Chickasaw residents, said Monroe County Administrator Sonny Clay.

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@journalinc.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal