Six MS tornadoes in 12 months strains Red Cross resources

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippi Red Cross volunteers and staff got on road the headed to Tupelo Wednesday afternoon. Officials say many of the people who left got back from serving in tornado affected areas closer to home just days ago.

After helping Kemper, Hinds, and Greene counties, Red Cross volunteers barely had to time to catch their breath before it was time to put the Emergency Response Vehicles back on the road.

Megan Burkes works for the South Mississippi chapter. She said, "I was released from, we call it a deployment, from Kemper County last Friday. Now I'm going up to the northeast part of the state to Tupelo."

The trip to Tupelo marks the sixth time in a year that the South Mississippi Red Cross has gone to help a tornado affect area somewhere in our state. Officials say the response has often been exhausting for volunteers.

"Although we have a great volunteer base, it's never quite strong enough for Mississippi in such a vulnerable area," said Josh Joachim, Chapter Manager. "We're responding all the time. Not only to just tornadoes like we're going through right now but also our regular every day disasters such as fires that we respond to."

So many disaster responses so close together is also a financial strain.

Joachim said, "With these six large scale disaster responses and our local ones every day, it has taken a toll on us financially. That is something that we always pull back to our communities for looking for financial assistance in order to be able to stock our ERVs, put fuel in those ERVs to respond."

Red Cross responders say they're tired but when called, they're ready to go help.

South Mississippi Red Cross officials say they are being cautious not to send too many resources to Tupelo because our area is also facing a possible severe weather threat.

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