OUR OPINION: More light clarifies picture for Smithville

By NEMS Daily Journal

A lot of light shed on big, vexing problems makes a huge difference in just a week for Smithville residents, who face the rebuilding of their town of 900 from the rubble of a killer tornado on Aprll 27.
A strong, bipartisan and diverse coalition from the public and private sectors last week unveiled what they know so far about what and who will, can and wants to provide help. The group has worked the halls of the U.S. Capitol to the individuals who wait and hope. As in so many other natural disasters damaging our state, providing help requires some time to pull resources together. The group of leaders who have taken on the Smithville recovery provide a big-picture focus.
Sen. Thad Cochran’s office provided assurance from his perspective in the U.S. Capitol.
“I have been assured by FEMA that it is working with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to help Smithville recover and to expedite the city’s application … It is my hope that a Community Disaster Loan application for Smithville will be reviewed and approved as quickly as possible,” Cochran said in a statement provided to the Daily Journal.
He is joined in the effort by Sen. Roger Wicker and Rep. Alan Nunnelee.
In Monroe County, the Gilmore Foundation, headquartered in Amory, has provided a no-interest loan to help Smithville keep operating through the worst of a revenue shortfall, and it has served as a facilitator in conversations with many others. Cadence Bank is providing major assistance.
State Sen. Hob Bryan, who has represented his home county for almost 28 years, said Friday, “Everybody from everywhere is going to great lengths in behalf of Smithville.”
The situation especially highlights the value of regional alliances like the Three Rivers Planning and Development District, which includes Monroe County. Three Rivers has a professional staff that knows every fact of how to access funds.
Add to the mix the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Mississippi Division, which works in Jackson and Washington, and the support web covers the networking map.
Early on, some residents said in reported statements, “I hope we aren’t forgotten.”
Smithville is on the minds of people who can help the recovery, and they’re working every day toward that goal.