By BRIAN HAWKINS
Debris on city streets from Monday night’s tornado has largely been cleared and electrical service has been restored to all areas of the city.
City Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill said some “isolated spots” at the hard-hit Pines Mobile Home Park may still be without electricity, but all other areas had power restored by Wednesday morning.
City sanitation and public services crews had also cleared debris from roadways, Spruill said.
Though Gov. Haley Barbour declared Oktibbeha County as a disaster area, Mayor Parker Wiseman said he is seeking a local declaration from the Board of Aldermen at its meeting this coming Tuesday. The declaration would be retroactive to the storm, he said.
Spruill and Wiseman commended the Sanitation, Electric, Public Services, Police and Fire departments for their swift response to Monday’s storm.
Repairs to ruptured natural gas lines in and near The Pines have also been made.
Robert Lesley, public affairs director for Atmos Energy in Mississippi, said there are some situations which can keep customers from getting reconnected, for instance, if the wind moved a mobile home so much the city requires an inspection.
“But any customer who is able to have gas service, we have been able to restore service to them,” Lesley said Wednesday.
Relief efforts continue
Cleanup at the Pines, which saw the heaviest damage from the Class EF-2 twister, continued Wednesday. Residents braved chilly temperatures Wednesday to sift through the remains of destroyed mobile homes to try to salvage possessions.
Community Counseling Services had set up its Mobile Crisis Response Center at a shopping center next to The Pines to provide counseling services to residents who needed help coping with their losses as well as to provide some clothing and toiletries to those who need them, said Lori Latham, the agency’s local director.
The recently-formed OSERVS (Oktibbeha-Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services), which had been on the scene immediately following the tornado, is working to raise funds to help the tornado victims meet long-term needs and replenish funds the new agency has already spent helping them.
Monetary donations may be mailed to OSERVS, P.O. Box 443, Starkville, MS 39760, or dropped off at the Starkville Daily News offices at 304 E. Lampkin St. during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) weekdays. A special mailbox for monetary donations has been placed just inside the front door of the SDN offices.
Some donations had already been received by Tuesday.
Wiseman said Wednesday that the Mayor’s Office would also be designated as a dropoff site for monetary donations to OSERVS for storm relief efforts. The Mayor’s Office is located at City Hall on Lampkin Street.
Any checks should be made payable to OSERVS and designated for the storm victims. Since OSERVS has applied for status as non-profit, tax-exempt organization, all donations are tax-deductible and will remain in the community, said Becky Wilkes, the agency’s executive director. For more information about OSERVS, contact Wilkes at 418-8911.
American Red Cross representatives also continued to work with residents at the storm-ravaged mobile home park on Wednesday, providing comfort kits, water and snacks and helping the families displaced by the weather.
“Besides hotels, the Red Cross is offering financial assistance for those families’ immediate needs,” said Red Cross representative Megan Burkes. “The Red Cross is assessing damage and providing relief in all areas affected by the severe weather.”