Miss. Leaders Seek Disaster Declaration | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Miss. Leaders Seek Disaster Declaration

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and the state's congressional delegation are asking President Barack Obama for a federal disaster declaration for tornado-ravaged areas of the Magnolia State.

Bryant is requesting a federal disaster declaration for Itawamba, Lee, Lowndes, Madison, Rankin, Wayne, and Winston counties plus the cities of Tupelo and Brandon as well as hazard mitigation statewide.

Bryant's request was submitted Tuesday while the congressional delegation's letter was sent to the White House on Wednesday.

State emergency management director Robert Latham says his office and leaders from the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be out Wednesday assessing damage to support the disaster declaration request.

A dozen tornadoes struck central and north Mississippi on Monday. Twelve deaths have been reported.

Cleanup efforts are underway across the state.

Bryant, in his letter, is asking the president for an expedited major disaster declaration because teams from local and federal emergency management agencies have not had enough time to complete comprehensive damage assessment in affected areas.

"The state of Mississippi is determined to recover from the damage and destruction caused by these storms and tornadoes. The state is prepared to expend funds in response to this disaster, but without the assistance of the federal government we will be unable to adequately recover from these devastating storms," Bryant said in the letter.

Bryant spokeswoman Nicole Webb said once those assessments are complete, the damage figures reflected in the governor's letter could be adjusted. If a declaration is in fact granted, additional counties can be added if damage figures qualify them, she said.

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