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VOL. 126 | NO. 94 | Friday, May 13, 2011

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Mid-South Flooding

Special Coverage: Mid-South Flooding

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Coverage of the rising waters in the Memphis area

MIM Triathlon Still Planned

Despite rising floodwaters, next weekend’s Memphis in May Triathlon event is still on, the Tunica Convention & Visitors Bureau has announced.

Race headquarters and all race activities are located on the opposite side of the levee from the river. While many casinos are now closed, the race will still go on.

The lake for the swim portion of the event has not been affected by the floods as it, too, is on the opposite side of the levee from the river, according to the event’s website. The swimming lake is controlled by an overflow valve that regulates the level of the lake, which is always about 6 feet deep.

“The Tunica destination has been hit hard by this year’s flood,” Tunica CVB president and CEO Webster Franklin said in a statement. “We however can assure everyone involved with the Memphis in May Triathlon that the floodwater will in no way affect the race moving forward as planned. Start 2 Finish Event Management and Harrah’s Casino Tunica have planned a great layout for the event that will not be impacted by the closure of the casino property itself.”

He went onto say The Veranda and Terrace Hotel along with the planned race course and swimming area will all be in “great shape.”

“Thanks for visiting Tunica during these difficult times for us all throughout the Mid-South. Your participation will only help in the speedy recovery of the Tunica tourism industry.”

The MIM Triathlon is slated for May 21 and 22 at Harrah’s Casino Tunica, 13615 Old Highway 61 N. For more information, visit www.mimtri.racesonline.com.

– Sarah Baker

Flood Assistance Available From FEMA, State

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has deemed several Tennessee counties eligible for federal assistance to individuals and families who have suffered damage from the recent tornadoes, storms and flooding.

FEMA officials will soon establish disaster recovery centers in Shelby County. Victims should call 800-621-FEMA or visit www.disasterassistance.gov – or m.fema.gov for smartphones – to obtain a benefit claim number.

The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, meanwhile, announced the availability of Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits for workers in Shelby, Dyer, Lake, Obion and Stewart counties as a direct result of severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes and flooding for the period starting April 19. Claims must be filed by June 9.

“As expected, a second disaster declaration has been issued by FEMA to address the damage, destruction and hardship caused by the floodwaters of the Mississippi River,” said Tennessee Labor Commissioner Karla Davis. “It will take some time and a lot of hard work to recover, but labor staff is ready to provide assistance through regular unemployment and Disaster Unemployment Assistance.”

Individuals not covered for regular unemployment benefits, including self-employed workers, may qualify for disaster unemployment benefits.

Visit www.tnema.org for more information about Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

– Aisling Maki

Shelters Continue to Draw Residents

A set of five shelters for those displaced by the floodwaters were open the day after the Mississippi River at Memphis reached its crest.

And the effort coordinated by a coalition of local churches is already drawing inquiries from government and religious leaders in other cities.

Those seeking shelter go to a command center at The Raleigh Springs Mall first and are then assigned a shelter. As a shelter nears capacity, other new shelters are opened based on demand. Church members undergo training to work as volunteers in the shelters.

Pastor Gary Faulkner of Cummings Street Baptist Church volunteered his church sanctuary on East Raines Road as one of the first two shelters to open.

The first occupants of that shelter and the one at Hope Presbyterian Church in Cordova were from trailer and mobile home parks in Frayser and North Shelby County. Many were Hispanic and both shelters had volunteers with lots of training in emergency procedures as well as several translators to bridge the language barrier.

Faulkner said getting involved is “what the church ought to be doing.”

“We’ve been preparing for something like this for a while,” Faulkner said. “Our thinking was first in dealing with earthquakes, but we’re really prepared for just about any crisis that might come up. … When anything like this happens in the city, we want to be a part of it as a faith-based community.”

– Bill Dries

Adams and Reese Feeds First Responders

Adams and Reese LLP teamed up with one of its clients, Medical Education Research Institute (MERI), to provide lunch this week for 150 first responders in Memphis working at the Emergency Operations Center at 2668 Avery Ave. on continued work to protect the city from flood-related damage.

The center on Avery is staffed around the clock by heads of several agencies, volunteers, city and county government leaders, firefighters, police and more.

The project was coordinated by Joe Walker, a partner in Adams and Reese’s Memphis office.

– Andy Meek

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