Attorney General Jim Hood is making Mississippians aware of the preparations his office is executing ahead of Tropical Storm Nate expected to strengthen into a hurricane and make landfall Sunday morning.
Investigators with the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit visited licensed nursing homes and licensed personal care homes Friday in the most southeastern counties in the state most likely to be impacted by the storm. They checked to ensure the facilities have an evacuation plan and sufficient water, fuel, and generators. These counties include Pike, Walthall, Marion, Lamar, Forrest, Perry, Greene, Pearl River, Stone, George, Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson.
In addition, investigators have contacted the region just north of those counties to be sure they are equally prepared. That region includes Adams, Amite, Wilkinson, Franklin, Lincoln, Lawrence, Jefferson Davis, Covington, Jones, Wayne, Claiborne, Copiah, Simpson, Smith, Jasper, Clarke, and Greene Counties.
“We must care for our seniors, especially during a disaster,” said General Hood. “Our staff follows the same protocol with every storm as outlined in our office’s Emergency Response Guide, and we will do all we can to be sure that our facilities here are prepared to continue giving quality care to residents in the event of a storm and follow state regulations.”
The Mississippi Department of Health website lists all regulations for licensed facilities. If a violation is found by the public, it should be reported to local law enforcement.
Additionally, investigators with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division checked prices of emergency supplies such as water and generators, as well as gas prices across the state Friday to record pricing in the event price gouging becomes an issue.
“Increased prices do not always equal price gouging,” explained General Hood. “Consumers should be aware that a state of emergency declaration does not necessarily give law enforcement the means to enforce and investigate reports of price gouging. The governor’s State of Emergency issued Friday did not include the specific language required to “activate” the price gouging statute, however, we encourage consumers to report suspicious prices so that we will be able to monitor the situation to decide whether to recommend that the statute be triggered.”
Anyone who suspects price gouging should use their camera phone to capture the price and other evidence and immediately send it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For consumers who have complaints or concerns, the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline will be manned 24 hours a day starting Friday at 5 p.m. through Tuesday. The hotline number is 800-281-4418. More storm preparation information, including an emergency supply checklist and a model contract to avoid home repair fraud, is available online at www.agjimhood.com.