NE Mississippi help heads to Coast

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

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TUPELO – Northeast Mississippi residents on Monday responded to Tropical Storm Isaac even though the slow-churning tempest won’t unleash its fury anywhere near this part of the state.
Tupelo members of the Salvation Army and the 185th Theater Aviation Brigade loaded up provisions and headed toward the Gulf Coast to offer assistance.
“It gives me a chance to give back what society gave me,” said William Archie of the Salvation Army, who will drive a mobile canteen to the Coast where he’ll cook and serve food to anyone in need. (…continued below map on Djournal website)

The canteen comes equipped with two ovens, two microwaves, two coffee makers, a stove, several refrigerators, a dishwasher and a food preparation area. It also has two windows through which Archie and his staff of three can slide food trays to the waiting public.
“You never know how bad it’s going to be until you get there,” Archie said.
The National Hurricane Center predicts Isaac will make landfall late today or early Wednesday. It’s expected to be upgraded to a Category 2 hurricane by the time it hits with winds of 96-110 miles per hour and storm surges of 6-8 feet.
“Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage,” according to the National Hurricane Center. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads.
“Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.”
Northeast Mississippi could receive some rain from the storm later in the week, according to the National Weather Service, but the region isn’t expected to see any major damage.
Across town from the Salvation Army, a three-person crew also loaded up their own mobile assistance vehicle: a UH-72 Lakota helicopter.
The National Guard members will assist first with damage assessment,” said Major Derek Holland, commander of the Army Aviation Support Facility in Tupelo.
“But we also could be called in to provide medical evacuation, search and rescue, firefighting and other miscellaneous humanitarian assistance,” he said.
Three more helicopters are on standby for possible deployment today. Among them are two specially equipped Medivac choppers.
Members of the National Guard’s 155th Brigade, headquartered in Tupelo, also will help by coordinating some 200 of its troops from McComb who were sent to the coast on Monday, said its commander, Col. John Rhodes.
Closer to home, emergency officials said they’re ready to help but don’t anticipate the need to open shelters or deploy staff to the coast.
“We’re standing by and waiting and watching,” said Patty Tucker, executive director of the Northeast Mississippi Chapter of the American Red Cross. “We have 45-50 volunteers that are on standby.”

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