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City officials reach out to East Columbus residents

 

Columbus Salvation Army Major Eric Roberts offers Haleigh Asford, 4, a bottle of water in her East Columbus neighborhood, off Beech Street. The neighborhood was one of many still without power Wednesday afternoon. Haleigh is the daughter of Tracey Baldwin of Columbus.

Columbus Salvation Army Major Eric Roberts offers Haleigh Asford, 4, a bottle of water in her East Columbus neighborhood, off Beech Street. The neighborhood was one of many still without power Wednesday afternoon. Haleigh is the daughter of Tracey Baldwin of Columbus. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

 

Nathan Gregory

 

Columbus Mayor Robert Smith said his office and Columbus Light and Water have fielded numerous calls from East Columbus residents who have been without power since Monday's severe weather event and crews are working to address their needs. 

 

First responders are going door to door in numerous residential areas to provide assistance and CL&W crews are working to restore power to all affected homes, Smith said.  

 

"We want the citizens to know that we're doing everything we can from the light and water department standpoint to restore power," Smith said. "Our primary concern is to try to get them some relief and some comfort. You can understand that they are upset. We want to let them know that we are concerned. Columbus Light and Water is working around the clock trying to get them some relief and get their power back on, but (residents) just have to be understanding." 

 

The Salvation Army has had its canteen truck in the area since Tuesday serving hot meals to those in need, local chapter executive director Eric Roberts said. The Salvation Army will have a lunch today at its 2219 Main St. location from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Roberts encourages anyone who is able to get to the facility to receive a meal to do so. Tuesday and Wednesday, the truck service provided 135 meals, he said, while 130 meals were served Wednesday at the Main Street office for dinner.  

 

"We're trying to prepare for however long it takes to do this," Roberts said. "It's better that they come to us if they can. We have so many more to serve around Beech Street and Poplar Avenue but we ran out of food earlier, so we came back to the building to restock." 

 

Roberts added that The Salvation Army is always accepting food donations but that money is currently needed the most. 

 

Meanwhile, CL&W General Manager Todd Gale said crews from electric departments in Water Valley and Okolona are assisting local crews in restoring electricity to those who have been affected and hopes to have power restored in all areas by Friday. About 30 linemen are working to restore power to more than 200 homes that haven't had any since Monday, Gale said. 

 

"The city is helping clear right-of-way on Cypress and Woolbright (streets)," Gale said. "We're also concentrating on the East Emerald subdivision and pockets of Southside." 

 

4-County Electric communications specialist Brad Barr said the utility hopes to restore service today to the remaining 300 customers in Lowndes County without power. 

 

Lowndes County Department of Human Services Division of Field Operations Director Jim Sutherland said current recipients of SNAP benefits who have been without power for 12 or more consecutive hours can come to the DHS office and fill out forms to replace food supply spoiled as a result of the power outage. The office is located at 1604 College St. For more information, call 328-5278. 

 

Smith wanted to remind residents that city public works crews cannot enter private property to remove limbs and debris from yards, but if residents cut fallen trees and limbs and put them on the side of the street, crews will work to remove them as soon as possible. 

 

West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson has mobilized seven city employees there to assist Columbus public works crews to assist in the cleanup effort. 

 

The areas of the city most affected are located primarily in Ward 2. Ward 2 councilman Joseph Mickens said he has been visiting residents along with first responders to find out what needs they have and tend to them. Police officers have brought tarps to residents so they can temporarily cover their roofs, Mickens said, adding that his main concern has been the well-being of senior citizens who have had no electricity since Monday. 

 

"With Light and Water telling some of them it might not get on until Thursday, that's four days," Mickens said Wednesday. "People are losing their food in their refrigerator. Some of them don't have hot water now because they've used all of it up. Some of them are staying in motels, and that's extra money." 

 

WCBI-TV is hosting a donation drive at the Malco Theater parking lot today until 7 p.m. Items being accepted include water, sports drinks, cleaning supplies, diapers and toiletries. All supplies go to The Salvation Army.  

 

Starkville businesses and Mississippi State University have also teamed up to collect needed items for affected residents in Louisville. Drop-off locations include the Salvation Army office in Starkville, the Walmart parking lot, Strange Brew, Juva Juice, Harvey's, USave, Starkville Computers, Army/Navy Store, The Veranda, Buffalo Wild Wings, LA Green, Thyme, Veranda, 929 Coffee Bar, Midtown Pilates, Sprout, Restaurant Tyler, Bin 612, Local Culture, The Biscuit Shop and the Barnes & Noble on the MSU campus.

 

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.

 

 

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