Insurers have paid out more than $31.6 million on 2,801 claims from tornadoes that hit Mississippi last month.
 
The Mississippi Insurance Department reported the figures through Feb. 3. Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said immediately after the storms he expects insured damages could reach the $100 million mark, with $50 million in uninsured losses.
 
Chaney said on Feb. 22 MID is continuing to assist people in Lamar, Forrest, Perry and Lauderdale counties who were affected by one of the three tornadoes that struck the state on Jan. 21. The most powerful tornado, categorized as an EF-3, tore a 31-mile path across south Mississippi killing four people and destroying more than 1,100 homes, with the most significant damage in the towns of Hattiesburg and Petal.
 
Pres. Donald Trump declared a federal disaster on Jan. 25, enabling federal assistance to those affected individuals in Forrest, Lamar, Lauderdale, and Perry counties.
 
As of Feb. 20, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said more than $5.7 million has already been approved in federal grants and loans to those affected by the storm. The Small Business Association has approved nearly $3.1 million in low-interest disaster loans to homeowners and business owners to repair, rebuild and replace damaged property and contents. More than $1.9 million in grants has been approved by FEMA to residents whose homes are currently uninhabitable.
 
MID said the Mississippi State Fire Academy’s new search and rescue drone was used for the first time in a disaster to assist in first responder and recovery efforts. Chaney praised the response of state emergency teams.
 
“Our State Fire Marshals and the Search and Rescue Team from the Mississippi State Fire Academy were on the ground within hours assisting in search and rescue and working with law enforcement to protect lives and property,” Chaney said.
 
Drone footage of the storm’s devastation at William Carey College in Hattiesburg, which saw significant tornado damage, is available on the MID You Tube page.