GULFPORT — After meeting with local officials in coastal Mississippi counties, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) said he is encouraged by the willingness of federal agencies to work with Mississippi to resolve early issues arising from Hurricane Isaac recovery efforts.
Cochran, along with Gov. Phil Bryant, met in Gulfport with local and county officials from Harrison and Hancock counties to get their assessment of initial recovery efforts. The meeting followed tours and similar interactions in Jackson and Pearl River counties earlier this week.
After hearing concerns about a Thursday deadline initially set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for cities and counties to assess and submit infrastructure damage assessments, Cochran requested and received a commitment from FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to extend the deadline.
“I appreciate Administrator Fugate’s responsiveness on the infrastructure deadline issue,” Cochran said. “The fact is that continued rainfall and flooding threats in South Mississippi make it almost impossible to make accurate damage assessments at this time.”
Cochran, vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, indicated that his tour of storm-damaged areas also revealed concerns among local officials about the resolution of Hurricane Katrina cases, including FEMA Special Community Disaster Loan (SCDL) repayments, while embarking on new assistance applications related to the emergency disaster declarations for Hurricane Isaac.
Cochran, who serves on the Senate appropriations subcommittee that funds FEMA, has closely worked on the SCDL issue since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, including adding language to appropriations bills directing FEMA to work closely with communities on this issue.
In a related item, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has released the following update on post-Isaac recovery efforts:
• Lamar County Dam — Pumping operations continue at the damaged dam in Lamar County at the Buccaneer Drive Dam on Oak Grove Lake. Fourteen homes remain evacuated. The dam has not been breached. A slide occurred on the dam Monday, and further damage to the slide prompted the precautionary evacuation.
• Pike County Dam — Federal, state and local agencies remain on scene to assess the damage and pumping operations at the Pike County dam at Lake Tangipahoa in Percy Quin State Park. Responding agencies are evaluating the water levels to further assess the damage.
• Individual Assistance Registrations — As of 7 p.m., 8,751 individuals in declared Mississippi counties have registered for federal assistance through FEMA. More than $1.8 million has been approved for individual assistance.
• Damage — State, federal and local partners continue to assess damage in affected counties.
• Shelters — As of 7 p.m. yesterday, one shelter in the state was open with 12 evacuees housed.
• Deaths — One death in Pearl River County and one death in Holmes County have been attributed to Isaac.
• Power Outages — Power has been restored to all who can receive it.