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County continues safety preparations for hurricane season

The Pearl River County Emergency Management Operations Center held the first of three hurricane staff planning meetings held throughout hurricane season Thursday.

The meetings allow the EOC to collect current contact and resource information from stakeholders in the community, including representatives from the Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home, Red Cross and MEMA. Gathering the information allows the EOC to know what logistical needs groups they work with in an emergency may have and what resources that organization can bring during an emergency, said Shawn Wise, EOC deputy director.

Wise said the EOC even reaches out to businesses and industries in the area to learn details like which gas stations will be open during an emergency.

EOC staff heard from representatives of Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home, and from Southern Care Hospice that one of their biggest needs during an emergency is transportation of patients.

Emergency Plan Updates

This year the emergency plan has been rewritten so that if someone thinks they have a special medical need, they can be taken to the emergency room or to the State Medical Needs Shelter in Wiggins, said Emergency Management Director Danny Manley. The shelter in Wiggins serves the six southern counties, Manley said. There are also three regular shelters in Pearl River County, he said.

Previously, it was a challenge for the EOC to determine what was or was not a special medical need, Manley said, and opening a special medical needs shelter in the Pearl River County Hospital prior to an event was costly and underutilized. Now, the PRC hospital will only open a special medical needs shelter after an event when there is additional federal aid, he said.

Red Cross

The Southeast Mississippi Chapter of the American Red Cross is looking for more healthcare and mental healthcare volunteers in Pearl River County, said Sherri Wise. During the flooding in May, the Red Cross did not have anyone for a healthcare lead, she said because the number of active volunteers in the county is small. In the event of an emergency the Red Cross does bring volunteers from outside of the area, Wise said, but that takes extra time.

In the next month the Red Cross will hold a community partnership awareness training to give community members an overview of what it takes to fill the disaster needs in Pearl River County, Wise said.