By NEMS Daily Journal
Mississippi, among the most storm-tossed states in every season, assessed damages Wednesday morning after unusual but not unprecedented Christmas tornadoes slammed some counties on Dec. 25.
Gov. Phil Bryant quickly declared states of emergency in eight counties: Forrest, Greene, Hinds, Jones, Lawrence, Pearl River, Stone and Wilkinson. Damages have since been reported in Amite and George counties.
Mississippi, which has won praise for its storm preparedness, was working with federal agencies and the Red Cross to feed, clothe and house people where damage deprived scores of shelter and safety.
In addition, traffic fatalities are running head of the same holiday season enforcement period a year ago, including fatalities in Northeast Mississippi Highway Patrol Districts in New Albany and Starkville.
Unlike weather related injuries and damage, most traffic accidents are preventable, especially involving drinking alcohol and driving. As of late Wednesday, five fatalities had been reported plus some injuries. One fatality had been reported the at the same time in 2011.
The number of crashes nearly doubled, with 211 collisions investigated compared with 110 reported over the holiday period last year at the same time. Enforcement is tougher: Citations statewide nearly tripled, with 5,601 tickets issued in comparison to 1,972 over the Christmas holiday in 2011, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Crashes statewide total 46 so far, but another four-day enforcement period, the toughest of the year, spreads across the New Year’s weekend.
The AP reported troopers made 111 DUI arrests, compared with 61 last year.
MHP will have all its manpower on patrol for the a New Year’s safety blitz. The maximum effort should further discourage stupid and illegal acts
On the storm front, Mississippians should consult the Red Cross and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency:
• http://www.msema.org/contact/ or 866-519-MEMA (6362)
• http://www.redcross.org/mississippi or https://www.redcross.org/donate/index
Emergency response spokespersons said Wednesday it has not been determined exactly how many people need assistance, but federal storm impact assessors were on the ground measuring the extent of damage and trying to determine which storms were strong winds and which were tornadoes.