City, county to get tornado aid

The root of a fallen tree is seen near a house with a tarped roof on Shawnee Drive nearly three months after a tornado ripped through the area.

McComb and Pike County are a step closer to receving a federal reimbursement for tornado debris removal costs after President Donald Trump signed a disaster declaration for the April 23 twister.

The city is projected to pay a little over $1 million in debris removal and monitoring.

The storm system caused $8 million in damages statewide.

Ten other counties were approved in the declaration, including Amite, Claiborne, Covington, George, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lawrence, Simpson, Smith and Wayne.

The declaration provides for local governments to receive 75% reimbursement for the costs associated with the cleanup.

This is good news for a McComb, which was facing a financial crunch long before the storm.

Mayor Quordiniah Lockley has said he was thankful for the assistance, noting that the state also is giving 12.5% on top of the 75% reimbursement for a total of 87.5% being paid back to the county.

The issue now is not if they will get money, but when.

“We don’t know how long it will take. That is why we are trying to get our package in as quickly as possible, and hopefully, it won’t be that long,” Lockley said, adding that he instructed Public Works Director Alice Barnes to start work on the applications for the aid.

Barnes said Land Company Development, the debris removal and disposal company, is on the final leg of the cleanup efforts, but the rain slowed down the process.

The storm hit roughly the same areas of town as a May 9, 2019, tornado.

In the aftermath of the 2020 twister, it was unclear if the state would meet the $4.5 million damage threshold to qualify for reimbursement, but Lockley had been adamant at the time that it would.

“People did not get out and view the full scope of the damage, and that is how I knew it was much more likely than last time,” he said, noting that Pike County alone had $1.6 million in damages.

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