BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - On Friday, Mississippi’s Emergency Management Association opened Disaster Assistance Centers for Easter storm victims. It’s just one of the many jobs pushing the agency to its limits in 2020.
So far, the agency’s 150 employees have been going seven days a week for 12 weeks straight as flooding, tornadoes, severe storms and COVID-19 have caused havoc in the Magnolia State.
"That can take a toll on your workforce," said Malary White, MEMA external affairs director. "Yes, it has been all hands on deck. Whenever we do an activation, everyone has to report. At almost every meeting we have, our director is reminding us to check on our people, make sure they're ok. If they need a break, take a break."
With events like the Pearl River flooding in February, or the recent severe weather in George County and COVID-19, those breaks have been few and far between. White said one thing keeping MEMA going is help from volunteers and other agencies from all over the state.
"We are one of those states where when life hits us right in the gut, we're going to get back up," she added. "We appreciate those volunteers that are willing to step and go out there and help and those Mississippi companies that have completely retooled their factory to produce PPE for us, too."
MEMA's next challenge is the upcoming 2020 hurricane season.
“Now we have to plan for hurricane season. Our planning has to change a little bit. Our sheltering situations have to change just a little bit," White said.