TUPELO • The Lee County Board of Supervisors has taken steps to seek outside help to haul off debris left behind more than a week ago by the remnants of a tropical storm.
The county hopes to move quicker than usual to select a bidder to haul away debris. The county is able to expedite the bidding process after declaring an emergency in the county because of the storm damage.
Interim county administrator Bill Benson said the board is waiting to see if FEMA will declare counties in Northeast Mississippi an emergency area. If the agency does, it will pay for certain cleanup efforts or reimburse the county for some expenses.
“Hopefully, FEMA will declare an emergency,” Benson said.
District 1 Supervisor Phil Morgan told the Daily Journal the board is being proactive by going ahead and advertising for companies to complete the debris removal work because it could be more than a month before FEMA gives an emergency declaration for the area.
“The board is trying to be quick about this,” Morgan said. “This way, if FEMA declares an emergency in the area, the county can go ahead and move forward with this.”
If the agency doesn’t proclaim the area as an emergency area, the county still plans to hire an external contractor to remove storm debris.
Benson told the supervisors that the board can go outside of the pre-screened businesses and hire companies that aren’t on FEMA’s list. However, Benson clarified to the Daily Journal that the companies who submit bids for the work will more than likely already be approved and licensed to do work for FEMA.
Lee Bowdry, the county’s emergency management director, told the Daily Journal the county has conducted its initial assessment of the storm damage and sent its preliminary numbers to state and federal agencies.
“Now, we’re just waiting for the state to get numbers from other counties,” Bowdry said.
Morgan urged residents of the county to remain patient and to cooperate with the county with the debris removal process.
The board will vote to take any further action at its next regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 18.