Confusion, Chaos Increasing in Jackson

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Car lines at the gas pumps can easily stretch for miles in the city of Jackson today. Stations regain their electricity, only to drain their pumps within a few hours as hungry vehicles buck and stamp for a turn at the pump. Tempers have risen and threats have been made, prompting police supervision at many pumps.

As of September 1, the city of Jackson has yet to impose a gas limit upon buyers. People can be seen filling up 100-gallon drums in the back of their pick-ups at stations all over the city, occasionally prompting altercations. Gov. Haley Barbour said at a September 1 address at MEMA headquarters on Riverside Drive, however, that the brunt of blame for the gas lines are the drivers themselves.

"People should recognize that fear of running out of gas is one of the principal reasons for the gas lines," Barbour said. "Because people have a fear that there won't be any gas and they'll be 200th in line to buy gas. We made progress on fuel today but it's just like gas lines during the (President Jimmy) Carter administration. They say 'I may not get any so I need to fill up my last four gallons,' and people will burn six gallons of gas sitting in line to try to top off their tank."

Barbour announced that the state had "brought on a very significant supply" of fuel at a holding station in Collins, Mississippi, and "devised a good system for moving that fuel all across the state."

Announcing that he was "tired, fractious, but determined" the haggard looking Barbour, wearing MEMA shirt, said that search and rescue efforts are continuing across the southern portion of the state, even as the Sun-Herald in Biloxi claims the state isn't moving fast enough.

"We're trying to do something nobody's ever done before," Barbour said. "This is the biggest natural disaster in the history of our country and it came on us. We're gonna deal with it and work together."

Barbour says he still can't offer a reliable estimate on fatalities. Many bodies are still lying or floating undiscovered among the furniture of their homes, buried beneath debris, or hiding up in attics where the doomed climbed to get away from rising water.

"We don't know how many fatalities there are," Barbour said. "The official count is meaningless, because nothing's official until its been certified by the coroner, but the mortuaries on the coast are past full and the federal government has assisted in bringing in some support for that. There've been reports of 150 or so, and they do come from credible sources. There's no assurance that fatalities will not rise in the next period of time.

For emergency information or for information on how to get emergency assistance or an application for a loan, grant, air or food stamps call the FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency at 1-800-621-3362 or visit http://www.fema.gov


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