SEMA opens three resource centers in Southeast Missouri

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com
A tree falls due to ice on the home of Kevin Bevell's grandmother Jan. 28 on Sprigg Street in Cape Girardeau.

Three resources centers opened today for people affected by the ice storm.

The centers, set up in Sikeston, Kennett and Poplar Bluff, will remain open until 7 p.m. today and reopen from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.

Susie Stonner, spokeswoman for the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, said $193 million in damages has been assessed in 22 counties so far, of public infrastructures such as water and sewer services, public utilities and rural electric cooperatives.

FEMA and SEMA officials expect to wrap up the individual assessments and send a report to Gov. Jay Nixon's office for a determination of whether the state will qualify for disaster designation status.

The multiagency resource centers are located in the Clinton Building, 501 Campanella Drive, Sikeston; VFW Post 5443, 1101 Veteran, Kennett; and Black River Coliseum, 301 S. 5th St, Poplar Bluff.

The assessment teams evaluated each community as a whole, looked at minor and major damage to homes, the number of people unemployed as a result of the storm, and damage or interruptions to businesses and agriculture.

Joel Evans, Scott County emergency operations director, said the widespread damage has affected roofs, and "tons and tons of electrical service."

He said the effects of this year's ice storm are "exponentially worse than last year's" in part because of the number of structure fires sparked by alternative heating, lighting and cooking devices. He said 10 percent of the county remains without power and may not get it back for weeks, "though we're hoping for a few days."

He said one person was very seriously injured trying to remove a tree and the county has recorded 20 "serious carbon monoxide cases."

FEMA will not pay for generators, gas, chain saws or spoiled food.

"Its' such an overwhelming time. People are dealing with so much and there's frustration," Stonner said. "People spent money that they had in an emergency fund for gas or generators or lost everything in their fridge."

People who need help or want to volunteer should call 211 (people with cell phones must call 800-427-4626) for help with food, shelter and other resources.

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