Officials with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Red Cross and Mississippi Power were preparing Thursday afternoon to send manpower, supplies and emergency response vehicles ahead of Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm expected to hit the east coast of Florida and Georgia as it heads up the Atlantic Coast.
MEMA has its office of preparedness director and operations officer on their way to Raleigh, North Carolina. The team will coordinate response and recovery resources from other states.
Mississippi Power has about 90 or more employees headed to Georgia on Saturday morning to help with possible infrastructure damage from the storm. Spokesman Jeff Shephard said linemen, engineers, support personnel and crews from Meridian to Hattiesburg to the Coast will be providing assistance.
“We’re constantly getting updates and sending more people as needed. We’ll be in Georgia, but it depends on the storm’s impact and affect on utilities,” he said.
John McFarland, executive director of the American Red Cross South Mississippi chapter, said the chapter sent three emergency response vehicles and about a dozen people with various skills to Tallahassee, Florida, which is acting as a temporary staging area for relief workers and volunteers.
Seven Mississippi volunteers already are in Orlando, one is headed to Fort Lauderdale and four more also are on their way to Florida, he said. Additional manpower will be on the way Thursday.
“We are getting deployment orders throughout the day for more staffing, vehicles and equipment,” McFarland said. “We’re keeping an eye on what the hurricane does. When we know more, we’ll head in that direction.”
All three agencies said they are prepared to send more support if it is requested.