OUR OPINION: Remember crucial dates in recovery assistance

Tornado recovery deadlines and procedures remain important in all areas with tornado damage.

Total tornado debris removed from inside Tupelo’s city limits this week exceeded the original 200,000 cubic yard estimate, and large amounts of storm detritus on private property literally and legally are beyond the reach of debris removal equipment.

As of Tuesday, 202,010 cubic yards of debris has been removed from tornado-affected areas in Tupelo.

Mayor Jason Shelton and other city officials have requested FEMA’s permission and funding to help clean up the storm’s garbage on private property, but that action must come from different levels of bureaucracy and won’t be available anytime soon, if at all.

Shelton this week said renewed volunteer effort is needed to help move the cleanup forward. While many volunteers have aided in cleanup so far, exhausting the energy and available time off for many, additional effort is needed.

Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, plus U.S. Reps. Bennie Thompson, Gregg Harper, Alan Nunnelee and Steven Palazzo, made a bipartisan, unanimous request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency asking for Personal Property Debris Removal program authorization.

Another important recovery phase closed Wednesday but opens a new but closely related service today.

Disaster recovery centers in Louisville and Tupelo closed, but today reopen at 8 a.m. as disaster loan outreach centers to continue serving disaster survivors for low-interest, disaster-qualified Small Business Administration loans.

SBA experts will be available at centers in Tupelo and Louisville to help complete low-interest disaster loan applications and answer questions about the loan program. Staff from FEMA will remain at the centers to assist survivors with disaster-related concerns.

The Tupelo office is in the old Tupelo Water and Light office, 320 Court St. Tupelo, 38804, in the block directly behind Tupelo’s Lyric Theatre.

The SBA process closes June 30.

SBA’s news releases say it is “the largest source of federal recovery funding for homeowners, renters and business owners. They may provide financial assistance for repairing or rebuilding a home or replacing personal property …”

June 30 is also the deadline to register with FEMA.

For more information, homeowners, renters and businesses may call the SBA at 800-659-2955 (TTY 800-877-8339), send an email to DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov or visit SBA.gov/Disaster. Survivors can complete disaster loan applications online at https://DisasterLoan.SBA.gov/ELA.

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