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Response to flooding challenges MS

Residents resist buyout proposals, use clean-up kits as long-term recovery is planned

BY BOND BRUNGARD | VICKSBURG, MS | May 15, 2008

Near record flooding in Mississippi is presenting recovery challenges to residents who were forced from their homes early last month.

Sandra Braasch, vice-president of Mississippi VOAD, said she will be meeting again this week with volunteer agencies to try and determine the long term recovery needs facing residents following the storms and flooding that hit the state this spring.

“We’re responding with buckets and all the way toward a long-term recovery,” said Braasch.

And as the director of disaster response for the Lutheran-Episcopal Services in Mississippi, Braasch said she’s staying in contact with congregations in the affected parts of the state to keep up with the needs facing those communities.

“We’re just trying to work together,” she said.

The Salvation Army helped residents in April who were affected by flooding on the Mississippi River. The river crested at 50.9 feet April 19, just below the record of 51.6 feet in 1973. Vicksburg’s flood stage is 43 feet and as of last week, it still hovered around that mark.

A presidential disaster declaration was issued last week. Capt. Patrick Lyons, a corps officer based in Vicksburg, said FEMA officials will be arriving soon to meet with those residents who incurred damage from the flooding in Warren, Claiborne and Issaquena counties.

Most of those, he said, lived in a housing area known as the Ford subdivision, north of the city along the Yazoo River, a Mississippi River tributary that backed up when the Mississippi rose above flood stage.

Lyons said the Salvation Army issued more than 70 flood cleanup kits to those affected by the flooding. About 100 homes incurred damage from the flooding. A shelter opened to help those who needed it, and Lyons said about 630 meals were served during April to those residents. And all that work has strained the Salvation Army’s resources here in west-central Mississippi.

“Financially we’re up against the wall,” he said, “and we haven’t hit summer yet.”

As FEMA representatives arrive to help those recovering from the flooding, Lyons said many residents have not waited for help. Many live in their homes that were built by ancestors many generations ago and are now trying to make a personal recovery.

“They are pretty adamant about moving (back) in,” said Lyons.

There was a public hearing in the Vicksburg last week and many residents, including those living in the Ford subdivision, voiced their opposition to a plan that would allow them to leave their homes through a voluntary buyout plan. Instead they wanted assistance to repair their homes.


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