Emerson checks on ice storm recovery in Jackson

Saturday, April 5, 2008

U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson met with city of Jackson officials to review progress in recovering from February's ice storms. The ice caused more than $1.3 million in damage throughout the city.

Emerson saw some of the storm's lingering effects while touring the city with Mayor Barbara Lohr and city manager Jim Roach Friday morning.

Many streets are still lined with debris piled four to eight feet high.

Emerson praised Jackson residents for their diligence in getting the broken limbs and other tree debris to the curbsides, a FEMA requirement.

She recalled a similar tour after Jackson's 2003 tornado.

"I'm sorry it's not five years from now," she said, telling Lohr the city of Copenhagen, Denmark, burns such debris for power.

"It's cheap energy, and there are no landfills," Emerson said.

Lohr told Emerson the city's board of aldermen will, on Monday, likely approve an agreement with Kearney, Mo.-based Christopher Contracting & Construction to pick up the remaining debris for $2.83 per compacted cubic yard. The company promised to use five teams to sweep the city. Work could begin as early as Friday, Lohr said, and must be completed by May 16.

Emerson was particularly interested in learning how FEMA officials have responded to the disaster. Lohr said the federal agency has communicated well.

"I think they've gotten much more flexible," Emerson said, suggesting FEMA administrator R. David Paulison has made the difference.

Emerson has spent many recent trips visiting the flooded cities of her district, all of which has been declared a federal disaster area.

She said ice storm damage should not be forgotten in the wake of the flooding. Emerson said federally funded first responder training helped many communities be resilient during and after dangerous weather events.

"I think, post-Katrina, their coordination, ability to delegate and work across community lines has been awesome," she said.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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