HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A team of five people from Harrison County Emergency Management is leaving Monday afternoon for the Florida Keys to help coordinate storm response and recovery from the devastation left by Hurricane Irma.
The monster storm made its first U.S. landfall there over the weekend, knocking out power, water, and cell service. Rupert Lacy, Harrison County EMA Director, is leading the team to Monroe County, FL where emergency officials rode out the storm.
"We know they made it, but information is sketchy," Lacy said as he waited to depart from the Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport.
According to Facebook posts from Monroe County, the National Guard is on the ground, the Red Cross and Salvation Army are bringing in thousands of MREs, and the USS Lincoln aircraft carrier will soon anchor off Key West to provide emergency services.
The Mississippi team will arrive with two heavy-duty trucks and all the supplies it needs to survive, including MREs, water, sleeping bags, tents, and even a portable restroom.
Lacy said the Mississippians will assist Monroe County officials with making initial damage assessments and coordinate relief supplies and assistance needed. With cell service compromised, Lacy said he'll be relying on satellite phones for communication.
One of the first jobs will be to assess the damage done to the 42 bridges along U.S. 1, which links the islands that make up the Florida Keys. U.S. 1 is the only road in and out of the Keys. By noon, Monroe County reported the first six of the 42 bridges have been inspected and are safe. No residents are being allowed back to the Keys at this time.