Entire State Included in Disaster Designation

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President Bush has granted Mississippi’s request to add additional counties to the Hurricane Katrina Presidential Disaster Declaration. Now all 82 counties are included in the declaration for either Individual or Public Assistance programs from FEMA.

And Cong. Chip Pickering flew into the Meridian Regional Airport to meet with city and county officials Tuesday in an attempt to get his arms around just how big the needs are here.

What he learned was the needs are great. Meridian and Lauderdale County are preparing for several thousand more evacuees from the Gulf Coast, in addition to the thousand or so that are already here.

Pickering says that will take a major effort from both public and private sectors to get accommodate them all.

Mayor John Robert Smith admits this is a situation unlike any other the city has had to deal with, but he says the city will handle it, with the help of the federal government.

Pickering admits that, so far, the federal government's response has been less than adequate, but he said he believes it is improving, and will continue to do so.