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Special session called on storm aid

JACKSON (AP) — Gov. Phil Bryant has called the Mississippi Legislature into special session starting Thursday to help pay state government’s share of recovery costs after the deadly April 28 tornadoes.

The governor said Tuesday that lawmakers will be asked to provide up to $20 million for disaster response and recovery costs through the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Initial estimates of state costs exceed $13.5 million but damage assessments continue, according to Bryant’s office.

The National Weather Service has counted 23 tornadoes that touched down across the Mississippi, killing 14 in the state, many of them in Winston County.

After the storms, Itawamba, Lee, Lowndes, Madison, Rankin, Wayne and Winston counties were declared eligible for aid under FEMA’s individual disaster assistance program.

On Tuesday, Bryant said the program has been extended to Jones, Leake, Montgomery, Simpson and Warren counties.

“Residents across Mississippi are suffering as a result of last week’s deadly tornadoes, and it is imperative that we provide the necessary resources for response and recovery,” Bryant said in a statement. “I am hopeful the Legislature will appropriately address the funding needs for this most recent disaster and will provide a sustainable method for satisfying responsibilities the state has for ongoing work from other disasters.”

Bryant said Mississippi also must be prepared for the possibility of additional weather emergencies with the hurricane season starting on June 1.

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