GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Mississippi Power was ready for whatever Hurricane Sally might bring, and part of that plan is to find a staging point for crews to get supplies, get refreshed and get on the job.
The parking lot at the Gulfport Sportsplex served as a home away from home for power company contractors, tree specialists and everyone here to help Mississippi Power customers get their lights back on.
“You know, when you’re going to call in a couple of hundred, a couple of thousand, up to 12 thousand support personnel and linemen like we did post Katrina, you have to have a place for them to eat and sleep and take a shower.” said Jeff Shepard with Mississippi Power.
This is one of several stopping points for many here, as they will likely continue along Hurricane Sally’s destructive path to the east, turning on the lights along the way.
Among those is Gunnison Tree Services out of Atlanta, the crew that also helped out in Lake Charles after Hurricane Laura before stopping in Gulfport.
“We’re very grateful to come in and be taken care of,” said Chris Jackson with Gunnison. “They know that we’re here to help. Mississippi Power, Southern Company, very helpful when it comes to taking care of us.”
If it weren’t for Mississippi Power’s staging effort, the crews would a lot more to worry about.
“We’d have to find somebody to be our gopher to run after stuff for all these men that you see in this parking lot,” said Rex Duggan, a contractor from Arkansas. “There’s a lot of us and everybody gets hungry just like we do at home.”
According to Shepard, Mississippi Power has a staff dedicated to manage disaster logistics.
“They are constantly working with hotels, restaurants, dry cleaners - those types of things you need to sustain a workforce." said Shepard.
An added benefit: local businesses can get in on the act, like Naomi’s Catering that provides hot meals and fresh fruit along with the other supplies provided.
“It all goes into the plan,” said Shepard. “We have contracts with some vendors, we have relationships with them. There’s an understanding that they need to be able to stay open during a storm event if they’re going to responsible for feeding a couple of hundred people.”
On Thursday, Mississippi Power will be sending resources to Mobile to help restore power there.