Power back in Jackson; cleanup aid still needed

Friday, May 9, 2003

Jackson life inched toward normalcy Thursday, with all but 30 houses regaining power, cleared streets reopening to traffic and most children returning to school.

They're awaiting word on whether Cape Girardeau County will be declared part of a federal disaster area, opening the way for temporary housing and debris cleanup grants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA officials will join Senators Kit Bond and Jim Talent at 3:15 p.m. today at Jackson City Hall to talk about the need and disaster response.

The visit comes after a tornado Tuesday night carved a two-mile northeasterly path through the city.

Jackson director of electric utilities Don Schuette said 98 percent of the city's residential electricity was operating by Thursday afternoon, and the rest should have power sometime today.

"The last ones left are the hard ones," Schuette said. "We're getting it back on as fast as we can."

Damaged businesses continued serving customers despite a few complications. The Co-op Service Center, which took a direct hit to the tornado, never lost power, said general manager Jerry Day. He was open Thursday even though the business lost four grain bins, including one that ended up against a house several blocks away.

All but one Jackson street was accessible. Madison Street will be shut down for some time because the gymnasium wall at Immaculate Conception School is unstable. While public school students went back to classes after a one-day absence, Immaculate Conception students are out the rest of the week as school officials try to address the damage.

Public and private employees as well as volunteers have been cutting trees off the roads since the twister hit. Their work, plus the fact that there were fewer sightseers in town, made for much smoother traffic Thursday.

Jackson public works director Rodney Bollinger said some streets will be closed temporarily for the next couple of weeks as workers tend to utility poles and dangling wires.

Calling volunteers

But while the city made progress, there is still a lot of work to do.

The American Red Cross and the city of Jackson are asking for volunteers to help clean up the mess.

"First and foremost, they need to be able to do physical labor," said Mary Burton, coordinator of the local American Red Cross chapter. "They need to bring their gloves, rakes, shovels and chainsaws, if they can operate one, and report to the public works department."

The public works department is located at 101 Court St. Work will be done during daylight hours, Burton said.

Burton also said the Red Cross has opened 20 cases since Tuesday night. Most of those cases include families whose homes have been destroyed. She said most of the families are staying with relatives, but three families are staying in local motels until other arrangements can be made.

As damage assessments continued, the Red Cross said 198 structures in Jackson were damaged. This included 13 businesses and three public facilities, two of which are apartment buildings, Burton said. The remainder are homes.

These figures are mostly final, she said.

"There might be a few coves that we haven't reached, but we think we're pretty close here," Burton said.

For those trying to clean up their debris, public works director Bollinger says be patient. The city will pick up the mess, but it may take up to two to three weeks to remove it all.

"We're asking that they separate their trash in two piles and place it on the curb," Bollinger said. "One pile for brush and tree limbs and the other for building materials and lumber."

He added that the city's spring clean-up week will continue as planned next week. Residents all over Jackson, even those not hit by the tornado, can put out large trash and appliances for pickup.

Citywide trash pickup has remained on schedule, Bollinger said.

The police and fire departments remain in a state of limbo, however. Their complex was hit Tuesday night, and they have been operating out of the county emergency operating center in the basement of the county administrative building. Within the next few days, the police department will set up shop in the old sheriff's department office on High Street behind the new sheriff's facility.

Mayor Paul Sander said the city carries insurance on the joint police and fire station.

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635

DOCUMENTING PERSONAL PROPERTY

  • Compile a household inventory in record books, which are available at bookstores and from insurance agents.

    Make a section for each room in the home in the book and list all the property in the rooms. Don't forget the attic, basement and garage.

    Attach receipts or bills of sale to the pages. Some items may require appraisals.

    Photograph items throughout those rooms and list each item's value and pertinent information on the back before including them in the book.

    Another alternative is to use a video camera to go from room to room, documenting possessions. Talk your way through your home, describing the item, date of purchase and its value.

    Videotape or photograph the outside of your home, including the landscaping and outdoor furniture.

    Put the household inventory in a safe place, such as a bank safe-deposit box.

    Review your homeowner's insurance policy annually to make sure you have adequate protection.

    For more information and tips on recording a home inventory, visit outreach.missouri.edu.

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