- Associated Press - Saturday, October 17, 2020

BAY SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) - People in Mississippi’s Pine Belt are still recovering from tornadoes that swept through the area on Easter Sunday. But after six months, Jasper County emergency management officials say their cleanup is almost finished.

Jasper County Emergency Management Director Mike Lucas told WDAM-TV it was a long process to get to this point.

“The state has to declare an emergency and then FEMA has to recognize it,” Lucas said. “For us, it was about 45 or 48 days before FEMA ever declared us. And once they declared us, then you have to go through the process of getting someone to pick up the debris, so you have your bid process.”

The tornado hit on April 12 and debris removal began in July.

“The county cannot go on private property and cleanup, so everything had to be moved to the roadside,” Lucas said. “It cost the county about $1.8 million. Hopefully, we turned in invoices to FEMA and they will pay 75%.”

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Sen. Roger Wicker announced last week that FEMA will be paying Jasper County $1,291,028 to offset the cost of removing more than 197,285 cubic yards (150,835 cubic meters) of vegetative and construction/demolition debris.

And while the county is finishing up debris removal, many residents continue to repair homes and businesses in the area.

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