Tougaloo Area Picking Up The Pieces - - Jackson, MS

Jackson, MS 04/08/2008

Tougaloo Area Picking Up The Pieces

By Marsha Thompson

Most of the storm damage seemed concentrated in densely populated sections of northeast Jackson. But across the tracks in the Tougaloo community, a twister left behind a swath of destruction as well. Tuesday our crew walked through neighborhoods that many "elderly citizens" call home.  

The Washington Street sign at West County Line no longer marks the way. Up until Sunday no one could have gotten in or out anyway. And April 4th marks a day many will not soon forget. Monday they walked their streets in amazement.  Anthony Thomas said, "It sounded like a low roar and you heard trees crashing and popping." George Ellis surveyed the damage on his street and was thankful his home was not severely damaged. "We have water and gas. We plan to stay in the home for now with candlelight." Right across the street, a rare site, 7 massive trees uprooted, falling around but not on James Jones modest home. He still has a roof over his head  "After the storm every street was blocked were were all just blocked in, trapped,"according to Jones.

Chain saws were shining and utility crews from Alabama blanketed the area right across from Tougaloo College. It 's where a lot of seniors live. Some of them are picking up the pieces, but many are just watching and waiting for the lights to come back on."It's is an enclave of senior citizens, looking out for each other doing what they can to restore their ravaged area, like 81 year old Bernice Smith. It's tough on senior citizens. I live right over there and I don't have lights yet." 70 year old Clarence Nicholson grabbed his chainsaw to help out working hand in hand with Alabama utility workers. "Thank the Llord it didn't get any worse."

Some seniors who have spent their entire lives here are worried about their homes, their future. Bernice Smith can't call an insurance agent for help. She is uninsured.  "I don't have insurance, but I'll make it everything is okay."

According to emergency officials, to qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants, counties must have about 100 uninsured homes with major damage. To qualify for low-interest federal loans for repairs....the county must have about 25 uninsured homes with major damage.

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