Yesterday’s afternoon storm in Kosciusko and the surrounding area damaged structures, downed trees, and caused power outages across the city.
City and county crews have been working alongside MDOT to clear trees blocking roads and downed power lines. No injuries have been reported at this time.
According to Attala County emergency manager Danny Townsend, damage from the storm is scattered sporadically across the county, but the area hit hardest was the west side of Kosciusko, extending outside of the city limits.
If an Attala County resident needs to report damage outside of the main damage area, call the Attala County Fire Department at (662) 289-9163. Leave your name, phone number, and address. A crew will come examine the damage and include it in the damage assessment.
“We’re going to try to cover everything we can see from the street,” said Townsend. “If someone’s got damage on the backside of their house that we might not see from the street, let us know and we'll get out there and take a look at it.”
Storm damage also affected The Star-Herald’s office building. Townsend said a drone-view showed a big hole in The Strand Theater’s roof, where debris flipped over and caused bricks to come off the backside of the buildings. The Star-Herald’s roof was punctured, pouring water into several newspaper offices.
There was speculation over whether the storm was caused by a tornado, straight line winds, or a microburst— a localized column of sinking air within a thunderstorm that is usually less than or equal to 2.5 miles in diameter. According to the National Weather Service, a wet microburst is accompanied by significant precipitation and is common in the Southeast during summer months.
Townsend said he was in contact with the National Weather Service last night, and they are going to send a crew to determine whether the storm was caused by a tornado, straight line winds, a microburst, or other factors. The report is expected within the next couple of days.
Emergency disaster funding for the county depends on the current assessment being done. The official assessment will determine if additional relief can be provided under the Stafford Act of 1988. The Stafford Act authorizes the delivery of federal technical, financial, logistical, and other assistance to states and localities during declared major disasters or emergencies. According to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, major disasters are defined as any natural catastrophe or fire, flood, or explosion, regardless of cause, which is of sufficient severity to warrant assistance under the act to alleviate the damage, loss, or hardship caused by the event. Emergencies are defined as any event for which federal assistance is needed to supplement state or local efforts to save lives, protect public health and safety, protect property, or avert the threat of a catastrophe.
Townsend said that if other counties assist in the effort, it will help numbers, but if Attala County must go at it alone, they will be determined to meet the threshold set by the Stafford Act.
There are two types of assistance under the Stafford Act—individual and public assistance. Townsend said public assistance covers debris cleanup for public buildings like city hall, police stations, or county or city-owned property. Individual assistance covers people’s homes and properties.
The Star-Herald will provide updates as the story develops.