Several benchmarks have been made indicating commitment to recovery and a gradual normalization of life:
- Renasant Bank reopened its Smithville branch office this week in a modular structure, a significant boost to town morale and a major convenience for the bank’s Smithville customers who had been forced to go to Amory or elsewhere to conduct financial business.
- Smithville and Monroe County school officials are fully committed to rebuilding the badly damaged Smithville School, which has 600 students in grades K-12. Monroe County Superintendent Scott Cantrell said on Tuesday that it is the goal of school leaders to reopen for classes in the fall semester in some form of temporary buildings in Smithville – and to have the football field lights on for a home game the first Friday night in September. Monroe County trustees decided within three days of the April 27 storm to rebuild the campus. Smithville’s Seminoles hold one of the most enviable athletic records in all sports among 1A high schools statewide.
- Brad Stevens, who lives in Smithville and is active in community life, said Smithville Baptist Church has firm plans to build temporary structures and resume worship and activities in the town after a short period in facilities borrowed from another Baptist congregation. Stevens said other churches destroyed or damaged in the storm – Victory Baptist, Smithville United Methodist, and First Freewill Baptist – also plan to rebuild.
- Access Health has reopened its clinic and administrative offices. The company owns rural health clinics.
- Smithville Telephone Co., an independent business, never stopped service.
- Contractors for FEMA have made steady progress clearing debris, which is a precursor of rebuilding.
All the business and institutional elements reinforce the larger goal, which Stevens described as “rooftops – it’s all about rooftops.”
Smithville’s remaining residents (about half the town escaped with less than severe damage) have expressed commitment to remain, and that represents an anchor, along with the school, churches and businesses, for an eventual full recovery.
Stevens said in Community Bank, where he works in Amory, he’s seen ample evidence of insurance payments and federal emergency funds in circulation. That an important element in planning for what’s next ...
Smithville’s residents have voiced the determination expected of a tightly knit small Mississippi town. The role of the rest of us is enthusiastic and tangible support.