By Benita Whitehorn
Now that Hurricane Ida has moved out of Mississippi and Louisiana, some Mississippi organizations are moving in to deal with its aftermath.
The North Mississippi chapter of the American Red Cross has already sent a dozen volunteers to assist people on the Gulf Coast. They are among the more than 500 Red Cross volunteers who have come from all over the country to help, said KC Grist, executive director of the North Mississippi chapter.
“It’s pretty rough,” Grist said. “There are homes destroyed, roads destroyed, a lot of flooding; it’s hot, and people don’t have power.”
Grist said three elderly people who had been evacuated from a retirement home in Metairie, La., showed up at her office in Tupelo because of the lack of electricity and air conditioning.
“We will try to get them back to the closest shelter (to their home),” Grist said. “If we’re not able to find someone directly, we’ll refer them to other partner agencies that can.”
Red Cross volunteers on the Gulf Coast will provide meals and supplies such as masks, sanitizer, work gloves, shovels, rakes and bleach to help with mold in flooded areas.
COVID-19 presents an extra challenge and expense, Grist said. It means preparing box lunches instead of offering a buffet; asking people to wear masks in shelters, though no one is turned away; and establishing shelters in places such as church fellowship halls rather than coliseums so too many people are not in one place.
The Associated Student Body at the University of Mississippi sent a letter to student organizations and university departments, asking for donations to help coastal communities in Mississippi recover from the hurricane.
“As you know, Hurricane Ida made its way through southern Mississippi with unprecedented wind and rain that left many communities destroyed,” said Devika Ganapathy, ASB’s principal of philanthropy, in his letter. “This past week the communities in southern Mississippi have taken a heavy hit physically, as well as mentally which has not only destroyed communities but has robbed many of their electricity, access to water, and livelihood.
“Although the state has recognized the issue and has been working to prepare and aid residents, the spike in the COVID-19 pandemic has made receiving and distributing aid even more challenging. The coordinated response is currently monetary based in an effort to provide instant relief and prevent overwhelming local organizations.”
ASB is collecting donations via the UM Foundation. Checks can also be delivered to the third floor of the Gertrude C. Ford Student Union and made out to the ASB Foundation Account.
National Guard Deployed
About 250 Mississippi National Guard troops deployed on Sept. 1 for an emergency response mission in Louisiana, according to a press release from Mississippi National Guard Public Affairs. Soldiers will help remove debris and distribute supplies including food and water, to the state’s residents after Sunday’s storm.
Camp Shelby is serving as a staging site for members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency as it prepares to move disaster relief efforts into Louisiana. The Mississippi National Guard is also providing lodging for Georgia National Guard soldiers as they prepare to assist in Louisiana.
North East Mississippi Electric Power Association in Oxford sent 13 linemen with their trucks and other equipment to help restore power in south Mississippi Aug. 31, said Brittany Hill, the association’s human resources manager.
The linemen will work with Southwest Mississippi Electric in Lorman for two weeks. Northeast possibly will send other linemen if the work continues past two weeks, Hill said.