Tornado cleanup kicks into high gear

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has developed three debris management guidance documents in response to this weekend’s storm events.

MDEQ is providing information to local governments on selecting temporary emergency debris sites, the locations of existing solid waste sites, and dealing with asbestos.

“As a native of Yazoo County, I understand clearly the challenges facing local governments in that county and also in Warren, Holmes and Choctaw counties. The amount of debris left behind is a big challenge for any county. Therefore, MDEQ has moved quickly to provide guidance to local officials who are dealing with large amounts of debris and other solid waste. We realize the need for additional public solid waste management facilities and are here to provide that information as well as for other solid waste management issues,” said MDEQ executive director Trudy Fisher.

The MDEQ documents include:

• Guidance to local governments on selecting and requesting approval for emergency debris management sites for burning, storage, or chipping of vegetative debris and storage/staging of structural debris.

• Guidance on the existing permitted solid waste facilities available in the four high impact counties and the permitted solid waste facilities in the adjacent counties to those high impact counties.

• Preliminary guidance on dealing with asbestos containing materials advising people to be cautious in managing and cleaning asbestos materials at single-family homes and advising owners of commercial, non-residential and multi-family dwelling unit owners to contact MDEQ for further guidance

The documents are available at: www.deq.state.ms.us/MDEQ.nsf/page/SW_EmergencyDebrisManagementGuidance4.24.2010?OpenDocument/.

In the mean time, the federal government response continues. Gov. Haley Barbour received a phone call yesterday from President Barack Obama, who expressed his concerns and discussed coordinating any federal assistance with local and state assets,

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) have also pledged to work with federal, state and local officials as damage assessments are made to determine what federal assistance.

Both Senators and their offices have been conferring with state officials in the aftermath of the storms that claimed the lives of 10 Mississippians and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses. The state is currently working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on damage assessments that will be used in a federal emergency disaster designation request.

Cochran said, “We are coordinating our efforts to make sure Mississippi gets any relief funding and support it qualifies for under our federal disaster programs. We will continue to coordinate and consult with officials as the scope of the storm damage is measured and as the rebuilding process begins.”

Wicker said, “At the federal level, authorities realize that Mississippi knows what it is doing. Our officials have done this before and the people of our state are resilient. There’s a lot of confidence in Washington that Mississippi is going to do things right.”

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