Several north Mississippi counties joined Gov. Haley Barbour's emergency list yesterday because of severe storms, flooding and tornados that left at least three Mississippians dead. The counties of Benton, Lafayette, Panola, Tippah and Union joined several mid-state counties where the governor declared a disaster April 28 due to tornados, and the entire Gulf coast awaiting the encroaching sea of oil headed for the beaches.
"Our prayers are with those families who were impacted this weekend by these dangerous storms that traveled through the state," Barbour said in a statement yesterday. "State emergency officials are working quickly to aid local responders with recovery efforts."
BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward denied that his company was responsible for the April 20 oil-rig disaster that is spilling more than 5,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, reports The Sun Herald. Speaking this morning on NBC's "Today" show, Hayward said the company is nonetheless taking responsibility for the response and cleanup. He also said crews at the spill site are using chemicals at the source to break up the oil.
This morning, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration restricted fishing in the area affected by the spill, which spans the Gulf from Louisiana to Florida waters.
"NOAA scientists are on the ground in the area of the oil spill taking water and seafood samples in an effort to ensure the safety of the seafood and fishing activities," said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator in a statement. Lubchenco met with more than 100 fishermen in Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish on Friday night. "I heard the concerns of the Plaquemines Parish fishermen as well other fishermen and state fishery managers about potential economic impacts of a closure. Balancing economic and health concerns, this order closes just those areas that are affected by oil. There should be no health risk in seafood currently in the marketplace."