This was Tupelo’s biggest disaster since the 1936 tornado. The 2014 version didn’t compare with that one in utter devastation of the city and massive loss of life. But it was a major blow nevertheless, one that the biggest weather disaster since the ‘36 tornado – the 1994 ice storm – couldn’t come close to matching.
Yet the city, unused to this kind of event, has acquitted itself well so far. Police kept darkened neighborhoods protected. Power crews have worked more quickly than any of us had a right to expect in restoring power to all but the hardest hit areas by the end of the week. The first steps in cleanup and recovery have been well-managed. A system for handling the influx of volunteers – the great goodwill pouring in from within and without – is in place.
Another surprisingly speedy occurrence was the signing by the president of the federal disaster declaration within a matter of hours after a request from the governor and a visit by the state’s congressional delegation, two of whom – Roger Wicker and Alan Nunnelee – live in Tupelo. The federal aid that will come will make a huge difference in relieving financial stress on the city and county as they recover.
Here’s a political question: Look at what has happened in Tupelo and nearby. Then ask yourself, how could anybody regard support for federal disaster relief as anything but a positive no-brainer. Yet there are candidates running these days – including one for the U.S. Senate in Mississippi – who haven’t always been so sure. Hint: It’s not Thad Cochran.