The Mississippi congressional delegation, which includes U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and U.S. Representatives Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., Trent Kelly, R-Miss., and Michael Guest, R-Miss., today sent a letter to President Donald J. Trump urging him to approve Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves’s request for a major disaster declaration for Hurricane Zeta.
The damage from the October 28 storm has put an additional strain on the state’s emergency response capability in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, warranting a federal response. If approved, the disaster declaration would unlock additional federal resources to supplement state recovery efforts.
The delegation letter referenced initial damage reports indicating two confirmed deaths and at least 135 injuries. The state has also reported at least $79 million in damage to public infrastructure and more than $10 million in damage to homes and businesses. Storm surge levels reached eight feet in some counties and spanned the entire Mississippi coastline. More than 200,000 Mississippians reported power outages across 38 counties, and many did not regain power for more than a week.
The full text of the delegation letter is below:
Dear President Trump,
In light of the significant damage that resulted from Hurricane Zeta, a Category 2 storm that hit the State of Mississippi on October 28, 2020, we request your full consideration of Governor Tate Reeves’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration under the Stafford Act for individual and public assistance, as well as U.S. Small Business Administration assistance.
We appreciate the continued efforts of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and anticipate expeditious assistance from the agency to support state and local officials in Mississippi who are responding to the devastating effects of Hurricane Zeta and other storms while simultaneously working to mitigate COVID-19 in our state.
As Governor Reeves indicated in his request, current reports indicate that at least 135 people were injured and two Mississippians lost their lives as a result of these storms. Damage also severely devastated local communities, homes, and public infrastructure. Joint Preliminary Damage Assessments found an estimated $79 million in damage to public infrastructure and more than $10 million in damage to homes and businesses.
In addition to damage caused by sustained winds of 104 miles per hour, storm surge levels reached eight feet in some counties and spanned the Mississippi coastline. Over 200,000 Mississippians reported power outages across 38 counties, and many did not regain power for more than a week.
On October 28, 2020, Governor Reeves declared a State of Emergency in Mississippi to assist in the recovery and requested a Pre-Landfall Disaster Declaration ahead of the storm. Members of the Mississippi delegation also sent a letter in support of Governor Reeves’s request for a Pre-Landfall Disaster Declaration. The request was not granted.
State resources are already strained by the ongoing effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and the quantity and severity of multiple federally declared disasters this hurricane season, including Hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Sally. In addition, the State continues to support efforts to recover from 10 federally declared disasters that have impacted citizens within all 82 counties in Mississippi during 2020. Without significant additional federal resources, we are concerned that Mississippi may not be able to recover.
We are determined to help Mississippi recover by supporting the affected local communities and the State as they work to rebuild from these devastating weather events.
Thank you for your consideration of this request. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you need further assistance in this effort.
Roger F. Wicker, United States Senator
Cindy Hyde-Smith, United States Senator
Bennie G. Thompson, Member of Congress
Steven Palazzo, Member of Congress
Trent Kelly, Member of Congress
Michael Guest, Member of Congress