City Council to discuss ending State of Emergency in Hattiesburg

City Council to discuss ending State of Emergency in Hattiesburg
Source: WDAM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg City Council will discuss ending the State of Emergency, active since January's EF-3 tornado, at Tuesday's meeting.

The State of Emergency was officially declared for the city on January 23, 2017, roughly two days after the deadly tornado hit part of the city and surrounding areas.

Councilman Carter Carroll, representing Ward 3, said the State of Emergency gave Hattiesburg officials the ability to get financial relief for clean-up efforts, but that assistance is no longer needed.

"As I understand from the engineers and the public works, we have picked up all the debris that we can that is refundable by FEMA," Carroll said.  "Evidently we have gotten everything we need to do and now it's just a matter of rebuilding."

Carroll said having the State of Emergency active for nearly six months gave the city a "little more latitude" on what they could "do in a day's work," like access to debris on private property.

"I think that six months is normally the case, the length of time it takes to recover from something like that," Carroll said.

Local governments in Forrest, Lamar and Perry counties were made eligible for reimbursements through FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program in February. That program provides reimbursements to those groups and some non-profits for expenses for things like debris removal and to repair damaged infrastructure.

In a letter to local lawmakers in March, City Council asked the state legislature for $500,000 to help pay for clean up costs not covered by FEMA.  According to the letter, Hattiesburg estimated the clean up cost to be around $3 million, with the city having to pay $500,000.