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Recovery assistance now underway: here’s how to find help

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, The Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other recovery and disaster organizations have boots on the ground in Mississippi to help you find the recovery you need as you rebuild from the January 21 tornadoes.

News Mississippi has gathered recovery information to help in your recovery.

Disaster Declaration: 

Governor Phil Bryant and President Donald Trump have declared a disaster situation after the storms.

Approved in this disaster declaration are:

  • Individual Assistance- Grants to individuals and households.
  • Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (Statewide).


Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment Teams made up of MEMA, FEMA, U.S. Small Business Administration and local officials are surveying additional damages to be considered for additional federal disaster assistance.

Anyone with damages in these counties may apply by going to or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The speech or hearing impaired may call (TTY) 1-800-462-7585.

Information about Disaster Recovery Centers opening in the declared counties will be released as soon as it becomes available, but please do not wait to register for assistance either online or by phone.

Recovery Safety

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reminds all residents affected by the tornadoes over the weekend that a tetanus vaccination is recommended if it’s been 10 years or more since your last tetanus vaccination.

In the event of a puncture wound or wound contaminated by floodwater, individuals should consult a healthcare provider.

Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccinations are available at all county health departments and are FREE for all Mississippi residents affected by the storms or first responders.

Please call your county health department clinic for hours of operation or visit the MSDH website at

Prescription Refill 

The Mississippi Division of Medicaid (DOM) has coordinated with the Department of Human Services to fulfill shelter duties and accommodate any shelter resident who has a disability or unmet needs. In cooperation with other organizations, DOM employees have reported for shelter duty starting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24 through 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27.

Additionally, from Jan. 21 throughout the duration of the State of Emergency, DOM has lifted prescription and durable medical equipment service limits for Medicaid beneficiaries in the affected areas. DOM’s Office of Pharmacy has specific emergency billing directions for beneficiary claims, for those beneficiaries residing in affected areas.

Fee-for-service Medicaid beneficiaries
During an officially declared State of Emergency, pharmacists must enter a value of ‘13-Payor Recognized Emergency’ in NCPDP Field ‘420-DK’ when it is necessary to override the following service limit edits:

·      2 Brand/5 Prescription Limit

·      Early Refill

Please note, when a State of Emergency is declared, the fields noted above will be opened for the specified time period.

 Pharmacy providers are advised to use professional judgment in emergency situations. DOM may conduct audits after such events to ensure appropriate care was taken in dispensing medications for affected beneficiaries.

Providers and beneficiaries who are not residing and/or receiving care in an evacuation area, must have documentation on file to justify rationale for early/excess prescription fills. Medicaid funds may be recouped if supporting documentation is not found.

Coordinated care beneficiaries (MississippiCAN)
Beneficiaries enrolled in our coordinated care program, MississippiCAN, should contact their coordinated care organization for assistance.

·      Magnolia Health: Call the Envolve Help Desk for overrides of service limits toll-free at 800-460-8988

·      UnitedHealthcare Community Plan: Call the OptumRx’s Help Desk for overrides of service limits toll-free at 877-305-8952


Disaster Unemployment Assistance 

Individuals in Forrest, Lamar, Lauderdale and Perry Counties in Mississippi, who were unable to work because of the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding may apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) announced today, January 26, 2017. 

People who live or work in one of the affected counties and could not work because of major destruction caused by the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that occurred January 21, 2017 are entitled to apply and may be eligible to receive DUA.

Self-employed individuals, who were living or working in the affected areas at the time of the major disaster, and those who are unemployed as a result of the major disaster, may be eligible for DUA.  In addition, those who were unable to reach their jobs, because the disaster prevented their travel, or who were scheduled to begin employment, but the disaster prevented them from doing so, may apply. 

Eligible to apply for DUA are individuals who:  (1) became the major support for a household because of the disaster-related death of the head of the household; (2) cannot work because of an injury caused as a direct result of the disaster; (3) could not work or lost work as a result of physical damage or destruction of a business, and; (4) are unable to work because of the physical inaccessibility of the place of employment due to its closure by the federal government.

Individuals in Forrest, Lamar, Lauderdale and Perry counties in Mississippi can apply online 24 hours a day at by calling toll-free, 1-877-633-7275 from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday

The deadline to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance is February 27, 2017.

SNAP Replacement Deadline

The Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) would like to advise that the deadline for requesting SNAP Replacement Benefits in Forrest, Jones, Lamar, and Perry counties is January 31, 2017. Please call your local MDHS office or visit the MDHS website at for further information.


Free Home Cleanup Hotline

From now through February 11, 2017, several relief agencies are staffing a free hotline for debris removal and home cleanup after the recent tornadoes and severe weather. This hotline will connect survivors with reputable and vetted relief agencies that will assist in chainsaw work and debris cleanup, as they are able. All services are free, but service is not guaranteed due to the overwhelming need. Survivors should call 800-451-1954 for help.


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