BY MARY GARRISON
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials have set up shop at Phillip's Hardware on Highway 45 in West Point and are looking to provide residents with information on how to better prepare themselves for emergency situations.
According to a FEMA news release, mitigation specialists will be on hand from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Friday at the store, equipped with information on how to prepare homes to reduce the likelihood of damage in a severe weather event. Representatives will have booklets and pamphlets with specific details, as well as answer any questions residents may posit. Thus far, it's an initiative that's been beneficial to both residents and specialists, according to James Belton, FEMA community education and outreach specialist.
"I've seen over 100 people in the last two days," Belton said. "It's going pretty well. â€¦ What we're doing is giving information to people about how to rebuild their homes so that they will be able to better withstand high winds and other disasters. We've got information available on storm shelters, too. We've given a lot of that out."
Belton said the initiative came as the result of the April 28 tornadoes that struck Louisville and Tupelo, leaving a trail of damage and 10 confirmed dead. While typically FEMA representatives only come in where a disaster has taken place, he said the state invited the agency in to assist residents presently in need, as well as mitigate future damage.
Belton said it was the first time the tour had come to West Point specifically, and representatives had been establishing locations in Northeast Mississippi for about three weeks. As of Tuesday, mitigation specialists were set up at Lowe's in Starkville for the week, as well.
"They just called me up one day on the phone and asked if they could use my place," said Phillip Dimino, owner of Phillip's Hardware. "I told them I had limited space, but they were welcome to come take a look and see if it'd work. â€¦ Well it did, so they came out to set up."
In addition to providing information about home preparation, specialists will have information on FEMA registration in the event of a disaster.
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