In the aftermath of the two deadly tornadoes that tore through Louisville, MS, the Statewide Technical Advance Rescue Team was deployed to aid in search and rescue efforts. Many fire stations from across the Mississippi Gulf Coast sent firemen to help sift through the destruction.
"We were notified and given the specifics in advance. We were told it was pretty bad, so we knew to expect a lot of devastation," said Gulfport firefighter Kevin Lundy.
When Lundy and his fellow STAR team members arrived in Louisville, it was dark and foggy. With nothing but flashlights in hand, they set out on a mission to find survivors in the rubble.
"Our main concern was finding any victims that were trapped, possibly needed rescuing. Total, after it was all said and done, we found six. Three we found were alive, and three we found were deceased," said Gulfport firefighter Chris Henderson.
Henderson said his unit was assigned to an apartment complex that had been destroyed. That's where they found the six people and several injured animals. Thankfully, Gulfport firefighter Chad Asher was able to get immediate help for those animals.
"I have some connections with the state EOC through the Mississippi Animal Rescue Team. We contacted them, got them coming, got some great vets in Starkville that arrived with a rescue team," said Asher.
The group was originally called Task Force Three, but since being taken over by MEMA, they are now known as the STAR team. Firemen from Gulfport, Biloxi, Long Beach, Wiggins and other Coast communities participate in drills across the state to prepare them for responding to disaster situations.
"Joining the task force through the state, it gives me an opportunity to train and better myself towards always being prepared to get back out there and do the same thing for those same people," said Asher.
All of these STAR team members remember the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina, so being able to help these Louisville residents is more than just a job for them.
If anyone would like to help the Louisville victims, STAR team members suggest going through the American Red Cross. That way, you will know what specific items the victims are in need of. You can visit the American Red Cross website here: www.redcross.org/mississippi