June 21, 2019 10:23:54 AM
Oktibbeha County has been declared a federal disaster area in response to an April 13 storm that spawned a pair of tornadoes in the county.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant's office announced the disaster declaration, which came from U.S. President Donald Trump, in a Thursday night press release. According to the release, Oktibbeha County is one of eight counties, along with Clarke, Clay, Itawamba, Kemper, Monroe, Warren and Yazoo counties, to receive the disaster declaration.
The storms, which struck in the evening, saw an EF-2 tornado hit Craig Springs and an EF-1 tornado pass to the east of Mississippi State University's campus.
While no injuries were reported in Oktibbeha County, Emergency Management Director Kristen Campanella said after the storm that 63 structures were damaged in Craig Springs, Hillbrook, Oktoc, the Highlands Plantation and Lakeside Drive. The storm also damaged MSU's Beef Unit and golf course, destroyed a C Spire tower in Craig Springs and caused water damage to the back of the Oktibbeha County Jail.
The declaration makes the counties eligible for public assistance, which will come from federal reimbursement grants to local governments and nonprofit entities for damage to infrastructure, debris removal and overtime to emergency responders.
It does not include assistance to individuals, however.
Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer said the county was lucky to have been spared any harm to its citizens.
"We were fortunate here in Oktibbeha County that it didn't stop anything from operating or stop us from serving the citizens," Trainer said. "We had several homes devastated and some that were lost. Craig Springs was hit hard and there was other damage scattered across the county.
"We're thankful to Gov. Bryant and appreciative of the federal government for their role in this," he added.
Bryant, in the press release, thanked Trump for the declarations.
"I am grateful to President Trump and his administration for its approval of our request," Bryant said. "This declaration will help those counties in rebuilding their infrastructure that is still significantly damaged."
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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