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State aid probable for tornado victims

By Staff
GOVERNOR VISITS Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, left, talks with Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie and Dalewood resident Joey Burt about possible state aid for tornado victims. Burt's home was demolished in Saturday's twister. Photo by Carl Crocker/The Meridian Star
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Dec. 20, 2000
Emergency officials say that while the victims of an F-2 tornado that struck Lauderdale County Saturday do not qualify for federal disaster assistance, help from the state treasury may soon be available.
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and other state leaders on Tuesday toured the Russell and Dalewood communities, hardest hit by at least one twister which set down about 11:40 a.m. and damaged homes and businesses along its 12-mile path.
Robert Latham, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said teams have already been in the area inspecting the damage and looking at what aid can be given in relief.
Latham said at least 25 buildings must have suffered either major damage or been destroyed to qualify for the declaration.
If the county qualifies for the SBA declaration, both homeowners and business owners can apply for long-term, low-interest rate loans to help rebuild.
Musgrove signed a state of emergency declaration for the county on Tuesday that Latham said will also help those who lost their homes during the disaster.
Latham said Lauderdale County did not suffer enough damage, as did Tuscaloosa, Ala., to qualify for federal disaster assistance but the MEMA director assured people on the scene the state would do all it can to help.
Musgrove said help could be on the way in another form, too, as he is looking into the possibility of getting Meridian's Doppler radar system restored in order to make certain other tornadoes are not "missed" by the National Weather Service.
The NWS issued no warning about Saturday's tornado, but officials there blame human error not inadequate radar.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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