Disaster Alert: Severe Weather in Mississippi

April 7, 2014

Disaster Alert

Mississippi – The American Red Cross Mississippi Region is responding to damage in multiple counties resulting from the recent severe weather including a tornado and localized flooding.

The Red Cross is working with the Covington County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) to assist with sheltering for those affected by an early-morning tornado that ripped through several small communities in the county. More than 40 people are seeking refuge in the shelter open at the Covington County Multipurpose Center, located at 68 Collins Industrial Park Drive in Collins, Miss. A hot lunch is currently being served at the shelter for those impacted by the disaster.

The Red Cross team is also working with EMAs in Copiah, Neshoba, Noxubee, Rankin, Simpson and Yazoo counties to assess damages and provide for immediate, emergency disaster-related needs.


Disaster Alert: Train Derailment in Mississippi

March 28, 2014

Disaster Alert

Mississippi – Volunteers and staff from the American Red Cross East Central and South Mississippi Chapters are providing on-scene canteen support for first responders involved in a train derailment in Ellisville, Miss. Red Cross volunteers will remain on-scene and provided food and beverage as long as needed. Jones County Emergency Manager Marda Tullos requested Red Cross canteen services to support the responders.


Disaster Update: Flooding in Mississippi

May 3, 2013

Disaster Update

Now that the waters have receded, volunteers and staff from the American Red Cross South Mississippi Chapter are on the ground in impacted neighborhoods helping Jackson Countians affected by the flood. Red Cross emergency response vehicles (ERVs) are on the move in water-soaked neighborhoods in Pascagoula and Moss Point providing clean-up kits and emotional support to impacted-residents. Disaster assessment teams are in affected neighborhoods in Gautier, Pascagoula and Moss Point. Once their assessments are completed, client casework will begin.

Red Cross provided assistance to four people in the shelter last night with hot meals, clothing and emotional support; the shelter closed this morning after the final four evacuees secured alternate lodging.


Disaster Update: Storm Response in Mississippi

April 15, 2013

Disaster Alert: Tornadoes in Mississippi

April 12, 2013

Disaster Alert

Mississippi – A severe storm caused tornado activity that damaged homes and affected several counties within the state on Thursday.  At least one fatality and multiple injuries reported.

Chapters within the region deployed Team Members, dispatched 8 Emergency Response Vehicles, identified shelters and provided bulk distribution to residents within the affected areas.


South Central Mississippi Chapter in Hattiesburg Continues Uninterrupted Emergency Care

February 19, 2013

By Brigitte Williams

IMG_20130214_080418_551 Chenita Wilson and Jay Vonover at Chapter Sign 02142013

A week ago this Sunday, February 10th, residents of the Gulf Coast were busy with plans to enjoy friends,  good food, fun and song during their last official parties before the start of Fat Tuesday the day before the Lent. For residents of south central Mississippi, those plans were in for an unwanted surprise.

Students at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, were enjoying a holiday for Mardi Gras with many headed south to New Orleans.  Also in the Big Easy on Sunday, Executive Director of the South Central Chapter of the American Red Cross, Jay Huffstatler. Branch Office Coordinator Chase Munro and several volunteers were in Pensacola enjoying scuba lessons. IT Area Manager, Jeremy Vonover and wife were in Brookhaven, a few hours northwest of Hattiesburg at a wedding.  Community Response Co-oordinator Chenita Wilson was enjoying family at home.  Aware of a slight risk of severe weather, with expectation for a thunderstorm or two, Chenita periodically monitored storm watchers’ conversations just in case.

Hearing an increase in chatter from storm watchers, Chenita began alerting Red Cross Disaster Responders, Ann and David Loveless of Laurel, there was a need to respond to a tornado that had hit Marion County west of Hattiesburg. This tornado, an EF1, was one of four tornadoes- an EF1, two EF2 and the EF4 packing 170 mile per hour winds that buzzed through Hattiesburg and Pearl that would change lives across four counties.

“I was in the process of heading to the Chapter to do an expanded “call down of additional responders, when Ann called to say they could see a tornado on the ground.” Chenita instructed the Loveless to return to their home for safety.   As she ended the call her husband Stokely yelled for Chenita, their four teenagers and a nephew to get into their hallway fast. He could hear the EF4 tornado headed their way. Soon all squeezed in the small space for twenty minutes until they were certain the storm was gone.

Help Can’t Wait

IT Manager Jeremy Vonover and wife were en route to Hattiesburg from Brookhaven ninety miles away.  Not quite to Hattiesburg, he was close enough to see the funnel, that was a quarter mile wide, was on the ground. “I stopped driving because I was entering the storm’s hail core,” explained Jeremy. “I could tell it was hitting structures and that it was tracking along Highway 98.” Safety permitting, Jeremy soon resumed following the tornado’s track.

Arriving at the Chapter before law enforcement had put up barricades to tornado ravaged neighborhoods he was amazed at what he was seeing.  “It was surreal seeing the destruction.” Jeremy’s adventure was not over. His wife, who had dropped him off at the chapter before continuing home, called to warn him another tornado was headed his way. Jeremy headed to the Chapter’s safe room for shelter. Two years ago, the Chapter received a grant from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) for a shelter adjacent to the chapter built to withstand tornadoes as strong as the EF4 that had just hit Hattiesburg. Fortunately for Jeremy he didn’t experience a second tornado.

Chase Munro and friends were west of Pensacola heading to Mississippi unaware of the tornado. “My grandparents called to inform me the Chapter was destroyed.” Knowing people would be in need of help, he increased his speed to get back as quickly as possible.  His race was soon interrupted as a Georgia County Sherriff’s blue lights signaled the need to stop.  After being informed of the reason of their haste, the sheriff provided official escort back to the Hattiesburg.

With her home escaping damage, Chenita knew she had to get to the office now.  Only five minutes away, she was taken aback by the view even in the dark. “The emergency truck was in the street, trailers and cars were tossed. I called my manager, Susan Lamey in Biloxi crying and screaming, “It’s gone, it’s gone, it’s gone!” Hearing her cries, Jeremy appeared to aid in calming her worry. “He was telling me the same thing Susan was-calm down, just calm down,” she says now laughing a bit.

Here to Help Those In Need

Even through her shock, Chenita kicked into gear. “We had to get a shelter open fast.  I wasn’t sure what the damage was, but I knew people were hurting and would need a place to stay.”

Branch Office Coordinator, Chase Munro was soon on the scene.  He, Jeremy and Chenita navigated their way through the dark and debris to knock down a garage door to the chapter to get emergency shelter and nurse kits. “It was just amazing” explained Chenita at Red Cross volunteers showed up at the chapter ready to staff shelters. “I was and am just so proud of our volunteers who came!”

Only in New Orleans for an hour or so, Executive Director Jay Huffstattler’s phone rang around 6pm with news of the tornado’s devastation. Calling off any Mardi Gras plans, Jay arrived in Hattiesburg in less than two hours. “Like the others it was unreal; our truck was destroyed in the street with the lights on inside as if it had been driven; you could smell natural gas from broken lines.”

Grabbing everything they could, and with the help of volunteers, two hours after the storm hit, the Red Cross shelter at the Forrest 361 Shelter in Hattiesburg was open by 7pm. “It was a team effort. Responders raced to the American Red Cross Warehouse to bring cots, blankets and pallets of water, since ours were destroyed in our supply trailers. Disaster Responders with their emergency trucks and volunteers came in from around Mississippi.  At 2am we were getting snacks and more supplies at Walmart,” laughs Chenita.

“Red Cross is here to serve those in need,” stated Jay. “Our team, with incredible support from the community and our volunteers across Mississippi, we were up and running as quickly as possible. With a full grasp of damage, we also have Red Crossers from around the country helping. We’re here to take care of south central Mississippi. The building is not the Red Cross”

With temporary offices in the American Red Cross Supply Warehouse in Hattiesburg, Jay promises after residents are cared for from these storms and floods from continuous rains, and time with a bit of reflection, the office at 606 Hutchinson Street will be rebuilt in the same place. Until then, because of energetic, committed workers, care and disaster relief provided by the South Central Chapter of the American Red Cross continues, uninterrupted.


Photos: Mississippi Tornadoes

February 14, 2013

Mississippi Tornadoes 2013
Mississippi Tornadoes 2013
Mississippi Tornadoes 2013

See entire set on Flickr >>


Photos: Tornado Relief in Mississippi

February 14, 2013

DISASTER ALERT: Red Cross Respond to Severe Weather Damage in Multiple Mississippi Counties

February 10, 2013

Red Cross Responds to Severe Weather Damage in Multiple Miss. Counties

HATTIESBURG, MISS., FEBRUARY 10, 2013—The American Red Cross Mississippi Region is responding to damage in multiple counties resulting from this evening’s severe weather.

Red Cross is currently working with the local Emergency Management Agencies in Lamar and Forest Counties to assist with sheltering for those affected by possible tornadic activity. Early reports indicate more than 50 families may need to seek refuge in one of the two county shelters scheduled to open later this evening. Shelter times and locations will be posted at www.mississippi-redcross.org as soon as all of the details are confirmed. Residents are encouraged to stay-tuned to local media partners as well.

 

“The Red Cross operates under a regional structure and shares resources in multiple offices and facilities throughout Mississippi for expanded service delivery,” said Joshua Joachim, Chief Operations Officer for the American Red Cross Mississippi Region. “Although we have confirmed substantial damage to our Red Cross office in Hattiesburg rendering it inoperable, we are pulling resources from our other locations and will continue to meet the disaster-caused needs of those affected by tonight’s storms.” Additionally, no staff or volunteers were injured.

 

All Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of disaster events in Mississippi and thousands of other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need.

 

To make contributions call 1-800-RED CROSS, donate online at www.mississippi-redcross.org, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation; charges will be applied to the cell phone bill.


Press Release: Red Cross Responds to Weekend Disasters in East Central Mississippi

January 14, 2013

Red Cross Responds to Weekend Disasters in East Central Mississippi

LAUREL, MS, Monday, January 14, 2013—The American Red Cross is responding to damage reported on Jordan Sumrall Road in Wayne County near Buckatanna following severe weather last night. Red Cross disaster action team (DAT) members from the East Central Chapter are on the ground in the affected area and are ready to assist with lodging, food, clothing, health services and emotional support for those with immediate, disaster-related needs.

Red Cross also provided food and water to Wayne County emergency workers and electric company employees who were on-scene overnight and throughout the morning working to restore power to the affected area.

Over the weekend Red Cross also responded to house fires in the following counties: Jones, Jasper, Winston and Noxubee.


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