What Clay County residents and officials anticipated for days became a reality late Monday evening when the county was given a federal disaster declaration signed by United States President Barack Obama.
The much anticipated declaration came just days after a visit to Clay County from congressman Alan Nunnelee, who listened to the concerns and needs of the Clay County community, some from Montpelier, which was hit hard by the April 27 EF3 tornado. He also saw “first hand” the devastation that Montpelier residents are trying to recover from and how it ripped parts of Montpelier to shreds.
Nunnelee told residents during his visit that Clay County is in as much need for federal disaster relief as other counties in Mississippi that were given federal declarations days earlier. The West Point/Clay County Emergency Management reports that the number of homes that were totally destroyed in Clay County is nine, not counting the Montpelier Post Office that was destroyed and other public buildings and private properties that suffered damage. Dozens of other homes were also damaged by the storm.
Nunnelee told residents who gathered Friday at the Montpelier Community Center that as soon as the meeting adjourned he would begin making phone calls to help get Clay County the federal assistance it needs. With the persistence and positivity of Clay County residents and officials along with the help of congressman Nunnelee, the message was sent to governor Haley Barbour about the devastation in Clay County and from there, the federal government recognized the counties need and has made the county eligible for federal disaster relief funds.
“This declaration will allow residents in these (29) counties to access much needed federal assistance to begin rebuilding their lives,” said Gov. Barbour.
The county is eligible for individual assistance, which includes grants to help pay for rental housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses not met by insurance or other assistance programs.
Clay County residents who were affected by the tornado are urged to register for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance if they haven’t already applied. Registration can be done by visiting www.fema.gov  or by calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 or the speech or hearing impaired.