Red Cross helps South Mississippians prepare for hurricane season

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Are you prepared for when a disaster strikes? It is time to get ready especially since we're officially in hurricane season. South Mississippi Red Cross officials are doing their part to get prepared and they want folks also create an emergency plan.

"You want to make sure you are always prepared. I know we have a lot of threats here in South Mississippi," said American Red Cross Executive Jay Huffstatler

Huffstatler and his team agree.  They say it only takes one storm to deliver a powerful punch to the coast. So preparation is the best defense.

"Make sure you know where you are going to go in the event of a disaster, whether it is a shelter or seek shelter with family out of the area," Huffstatler said.

Building an emergency preparedness kit is also recommended.

"From water to canned food, to medication, important paper work, documents, make sure you have all the supplies to survive for several days and you can sustain your family for several days," Huffstatler said.

Volunteer Kelly Martinez said the Red Cross is also helping teach young people how to plan for emergencies. The program is called Pillowcase Project.

"It was inspired by Hurricane Katrina. A lot of students in New Orleans packed a lot of their gear in pillowcases. Red Cross volunteers notice that. So they developed a program for little kids to understand the importance of what you need to pack in an emergency. For example, like toiletries, band-aids, food, flashlight," Martinez said.

Red Cross team members have also been training to respond to a disaster. Currently, there are five chapters in state with more than 1,200 volunteers ready to help.

"We do everything from driving the response vehicles. We have disaster assessment teams that go out and identify areas and pockets that have been affected. So, we have a wide array of volunteer opportunities at the Red Cross. You never know when a Hurricane or a disaster is going to strike," Huffstatler said.

If you would like volunteer or donate to the Red Cross, please call the Red Cross Biloxi Office (228) 896-4511.

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