TUPELO – City leaders have started dual tasks of short- and long-term tornado recovery as debris removal continues and plans begin to consider improvements to damaged properties.
As of today, private companies contracted by Tupelo have removed 20,049 cubic yards of trees, branches, damaged household goods and other items from April 28 tornado destruction that resulted in the city and Lee County receiving a federal disaster designation.
Tupelo leaders will host federal and state officials for a town hall meeting Monday in City Hall to discuss federal assistance available and add properties to the list for where volunteers are needed to assist with debris removal.
An estimated 200,000 cubic yards of debris is scattered in the city and county from the storm system.
The meeting also will include discussion with the public about opportunities to improve areas devastated by the EF3 tornado. Mayor Jason Shelton said ideas will be wide-ranging from the need to organize or reactivate neighborhood groups.
Shelton said this natural disaster helps reemphasize the need for stronger neighborhood associations in the city, something he has advocated as a way to enhance pride and build community.
Areas such as Bristow Acres and Bel Air, without active neighborhood associations, didn’t have strong networks to share information about services, power outages and other concerns after the tornado.
“It exposed a real need for it in places,” Shelton said.
Along with enhancing neighborhood connectivity, parts of the city destroyed like stretches along North Gloster Street could look different when businesses and other properties rebuild. The mayor said overall recovery efforts may take three to five years.
Storm damage and cleared structures destroyed will leave a blank canvas in some places.
“It was devastating but we’ve got to make the best of it,” Shelton said.
Ideas mentioned include installing sidewalks and a crosswalk, possibly built over the street, along North Gloster to create more “cohesiveness.”
“It’s another opportunity to have revitalization of that North Gloster corridor,” said Shelton.
Debris removal this week in cubic yards
• Tupelo (started Monday) – 20,049
• Lee County (began Tuesday) – 11,449
View paths of Mississippi’s April 28 tornadoes
(Type Tupelo or Lee County in top search option for closer view of local tornado’s path)