Major disaster relief on way to county in wake of winter storm

Baptist Relief going to 10 areas of Neshoba County

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Central Electric expects to have the majority of power restored to Neshoba County residents “in the next few days,” officials said, but provisions have been made to distribute food and water in communities countywide.

The Salvation Army will be at the Neshoba Coliseum at 4:30 p.m. today serving hot meals, state Sen. Jenifer Branning announced Friday morning.

The cavalry arrives Saturday when the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Cooking Team will be providing meals at at least 10 locations in the county.

Local officials have declared a state of emergency following winter storms that knocked out power to roughly 70% of electric customers in rural Neshoba County and shut schools and businesses for days.

Emergency Management Director Darrell Wilson said he has been getting daily updates every evening from Central Electric on power outages. He said his Thursday report was that 8,700 customers were without power.

For those without power, the Salvation Army will be at the Neshoba Coliseum at 4:30 p.m. today (Friday) serving hot meals, state Sen. Jenifer Branning announced Friday morning.

The Salvation Army expects to be able to serve 300 to 400 people. Hot meals, water, coffee, hot chocolate, pastries and fruit will be provided, Branning said.

County Administrator Jeff Mayo said the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Cooking Team will be providing meals to those who are without power beginning with the first meal at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, and continuing at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21 at the following locations:

• Neshoba Baptist Center

• Salem Baptist Church

• New Bethel Baptist Church

• High Hill Baptist Church

• Linwood Baptist Church

• Spring Creek Baptist Church

• Bethsaida Baptist Church

• County Line Baptist Church

• Antioch Baptist Church

• Sardis Baptist Church

Wilson said the above locations were selected as central locations to the county's roughly 10 communities.

He said members of the organization are largely from south Mississippi and have been organized in tandem with MEMA relief efforts.

Wilson said the relief workers are expected to stay for at least seven days or as needed. Mayo said they will be continuing with the 1 p.m. meal each day until they are demobilized.

“It will of course depend on how long it takes to restore power,” Mayo said.

Mayo called the power outages “a Katrina Level Event for the county.”

The Neshoba County Board of Supervisors on Thursday declared a local state of emergency and were petitioning the Mississippi Governor’s office to declare Neshoba County a disaster area.

He said the Lieutenant Governor had previously declared a state of emergency on Sunday for the areas that were expected to be affected. The request to the governor provides notification that Neshoba County is requesting state and federal assistance in response to the disaster.

Wilson said he has been told crews are working to restore power to the “main” or “three-phase” power lines throughout the county before they can restore power to the rest of the customers.

“They said they are out there working as hard as they can. I know that my house is still out of power,” Wilson said. “The best they said is it will be a few days.”

On Thursday, North East Mississippi Electric Power Association Crews were leaving Oxford and on the way to Newton and Neshoba counties to assist with power restoration. Wilson said crews from Arkansas were headed this way as well.

Mayo said Friday the county had 12 crews working to clear the roadways throughout the county. He said Sanitation Department staff had been pulled to fill out the crews as well.

“We don’t have all the roads open at this point, and we are only pushing debris back to the right-of-way as I previously mentioned,” Mayo said.

Mayo said Thursday that getting roads passable is a top priority.

“Getting all of the roads open and passable is the primary concern currently and debris will be removed from the right-of-way at a later date,” Mayo said. “Some roads have trees with power lines involved and as soon as it is safe to remove them from the roadway, they will be pushed back to the right-of-way.”

Regular household garbage collection will resume on Monday, he said.


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