Governor Bryant updates Pine Belt on disaster declaration, President Trump signs

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Governor Phil Bryant and officials held a press conference Thursday at the Forrest county Emergency Operations Center to discuss updates on the Disaster Declaration that was signed by President Donald Trump Wednesday.

Bryant said tornadoes are becoming all too familiar, but with familiarity comes experience. He said it is unfortunate Mississippi suffers from these types of natural disasters, but as he continues to tour the damages the sites have improved.

“The debris removal, the people that still out clearing out debris on their own, the power lines that are up again, southern power district electric, the other power companies that were involved, to see the 400 power poles that were down are now back up" said Governor Bryant.

FEMA officials said they met with President Trump and briefed him on continuous relief efforts. Officials are now setting up disaster relief centers for victims and are encouraged to sign up right away.

"In order to make repairs again, is where our volunteer organizations will come in, so even if you register online, and the FEMA assistance people come to your home and process your claim, we ask that if time permits, is to get into the disaster recover centers, so you can get other applications for other assistance" said MEMA Director Lee Smithson.

Bryant said the Attorney's General Office had made steps to make sure victims do not get scammed by fraudulent agencies.

The following is information on Government and Local Assistance:

Site Locations for FEMA, MEMA, and Local Assistance: Petal Civic Center and C.E. Roy Community Building.

Homeowners, renters and business owners in Forrest, Lamar, Lauderdale and Perry counties affected by recent severe storms and tornadoes are urged to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as they may be eligible for disaster assistance.

The presidential disaster declaration makes federal assistance available to eligible individuals and businesses who sustained damages during the January 20 – 21 tornado outbreak.

Individuals and businesses in designated counties can begin the disaster assistance process by registering online at or by calling 800-621-3362, which is video relay service accessible. Survivors who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have difficulty speaking may call TTY 800-462-7585. Helpline hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, seven days a week until further notice.

Assistance may include grants for temporary housing, rental assistance and home repairs, and for other serious disaster-related needs, such as repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed personal property, and medical and dental expenses. Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration may also be available to cover losses not fully compensated by insurance.

Mississippi residents should register with FEMA even if they have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but under-insured applicants may receive help after their insurance claims are settled.

Registering with FEMA is required for federal aid, even if the person registered with another disaster-relief organization.

Federal disaster aid does not affect other government benefits, such as Social Security and Medicaid, and is not considered taxable income. Survivors must use the name that appears on their government photo ID when registering with FEMA.

Applicants will be asked for the following information:

  • Social Security number

  • Address of the damaged home or apartment

  • Description of the damage

  • Information about insurance coverage

  • A current contact telephone number

  • An address where they can receive mail

  • Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of funds.

FEMA and Mississippi officials continue to review damages to facilities damaged by the severe weather.



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