A rash of severe storms early Saturday morning that brought down trees and power lines, which caused widespread power outages across the northern end of the county, prompted the Sunflower County Board of Supervisors to hold a special meeting on Monday to issue an emergency proclamation.
During Monday’s session, questions arose about the status of the county’s emergency generators.
District 1 Supervisor Glenn Donald said he was told that the Ruleville and Drew areas needed generators because of the water system, but he suggested Emergency Management Director Denny Evans did not have machines readily available.
District 3 Supervisor Ben Gaston addressed that claim.
“Denny went and got a generator and took it to Ruleville, then he got one from Humphreys County to take to Drew,” he said.
After a brief exchange between Donald and Attorney Johnny McWilliams about the options Evans had for acquiring generators, Donald asked, “So, how many generators do we have?” McWilliams responded that he didn’t know and District 5 Supervisor Gloria Dickerson, who attended the session by telephone, said, “Evidently, we don’t have any because Denny was telling the mayor that he didn’t have any (and) he was going to have to try and find one.”
Donald said that was also what he had heard; however, he stressed, “That’s not true, we got generators, we got some out at the road department.”
Dickerson said the mayor of Drew had called her on Saturday, upset because Evans had allegedly told him that it would be Sunday or Monday before he could get a generator to restore power to their water system.
She indicated that continual calling is what led to Evans borrowing a generator. Expressing his dismay, Donald said, “You know doggone well we ain't sitting up here with no generators in Sunflower County.” He then called Evans and asked how many generators the county had.
Evans said, “As far as I know one, the one EMA has.” Evans said that one is 140 kilowatts. “There may be some smaller ones around, but I don’t know about all of those though,” he said.
Donald asked if he had checked with the E-911 department because they also have generators. Evans said that he had not. Donald then named other departments that had generators and asserted, “I know we got more than one because we have used them before.”
Board President Riley Rice asked if he had all of the generators that he needed and Evans said he had requested a large generator from the MEMA office in Jackson to provide power to the National Guard Armory in Drew where the Red Cross was setting up a temporary shelter, as of Monday.
Evans then stated that he was not aware of the need for any others. Donald suggested that Evans conduct an assessment to determine how many generators the county owns and how many it needs in case of emergency. “If that storm had hit Humphreys County, we’d be out of luck on some things, so we need to possess our own generators, we need to have more than one, ” Donald said.
Donald asserted that he thought the county had more generators, because former EMA Director Ben Grant had purchased two or three from a surplus dealer.
“The question is how big, that’s the thing,” McWilliams insisted. Donald maintained that they were huge.
Evans said he was aware of the ones that Donald mentioned; however, “I don’t know if they run or what the status is. They’re not mobile. They have to be moved around by a forklift,” Evans said.
McWilliams stressed that Evans should take inventory of what he has and what is needed once this situation has passed, but in the meantime in light of the board’s emergency proclamation, he was authorized to purchase whatever was needed to meet the needs of the county’s citizens.