Mississippi officials announced Tuesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved aid to governments in Forrest, Lamar and Perry counties following a Jan. 21 tornado, as a hard-hit university announced it would have to demolish five buildings following the storm.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said the public recovery money can be used to remove debris, repair government facilities and take emergency protective measures. Besides governments, certain nonprofit organizations such as electrical cooperatives are also eligible.
State officials said earlier that Mississippi had to show $4.2 million in damage to public facilities to win such a declaration.
FEMA typically reimburses governments for 75 percent of the cost of work, with state and local governments splitting the remainder. Nonprofits must pay the full 25 percent.
The federal government earlier approved aid to individuals in Forrest, Lamar, Perry and Lauderdale counties, making them eligible for assistance up to $33,000. That earlier approval also included money to reduce hazards statewide.
The Jan. 21 twister killed four people and injured dozens as it moved across Lamar, Forrest and Perry counties before dawn, damaging or destroying hundreds of structures. Lauderdale County was approved for individual assistance for a separate tornado that hit that day.
William Carey University, a Baptist institution, was among the hardest hit. The school said Monday that it has already demolished two buildings and will knock down three more including Tatum Court, the oldest structure on campus.
Spokeswoman Mia Overton said Monday that the Baptist university still plans to start its spring trimester on Feb. 20. By then, officials say, eight dormitories housing 739 students will be open.
They also say a number of classroom and administrative buildings will be open, including the school’s library. However, William Carey says some classes will continue to meet off-campus or online.
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