GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi Power utility trucks are on their way to Georgia. About 100 linemen from South Mississippi left Gulfport around 8:00 Sunday morning. Their job is to help restore power in communities that will be impacted by Hurricane Irma. Nicole Faulk is with Mississippi Power.
"This is something we're very passionate about," Faulk said on Good Morning Mississippi Weekend moments after the power company's convoy headed east. "We know all too well what it's like to be hit by a major hurricane. Those people come and help us. So we always want to repay that favor."
A news release from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency says Mississippi is sending 98 emergency response specialists to assist Floridians as Hurricane Irma makes landfall. The Mississippi teams were all requested by the Florida Division of Emergency Management through the national Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). There are 61 search and rescue specialists leaving Mississippi Sunday morning to staging areas in Florida. The other teams will begin deploying Monday.
The search and rescue teams members come from agencies in Biloxi, Diamondhead, Gulfport, Hattiesburg,and other areas across the state. Todd Frier, spokesman for the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, said members of the search and rescue teams are highly trained in swift water rescue, collapsed structure rescue, hazardous material management, and logistics.
"These MSSARTF members are outstanding and train hard to be prepared for situations such as this," said Mark McKee, Executive Director of MOHS. "In my opinion, they are the very best at what they do. Florida has a long history of assisting Mississippi. We are glad to be able to return the favor."
Frier said the Mississippi National guard is deploying two CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 20 personnel to help with the relief efforts.
"We are honored to send some of Mississippi's most experienced disaster response specialists to help our neighbors in Florida as they face this major hurricane," said MEMA Director Lee Smithson. "Florida was the first state to roll into the Mississippi Gulf Coast right after Hurricane Katrina to help us with response and recovery. Governor Bryant is committed to assisting Florida with all the resources it needs and we can provide."