As record flooding in Tennessee is reaching the highpoint, attention is being diverted further downriver to residents in the state of Mississippi.
Following the devastating tornadoes and the impending floods, South Carolina Emergency Management Public Information Coordinator Derrec Becker is in Pearl, Mississippi assisting MEMA, or Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
We’re setting up press conferences, we’re out there taking pictures, we’re shooting video and working with the FEMA Disaster Recovery Staff, who have been on the ground since the tornadoes struck .
Becker says he is basically doing the exact same job in Mississippi that he does for South Carolina’s Emergency Management.
It can be as simple as coming in and helping out the staff here with whatever needs to be done, to doing town hall meetings and doing press conferences in the various areas.
He says one of the big concerns right now is the transitioning from the tornado incident, which is in the recovery phase, to getting the people the help that they need with the flooding.
According to Becker there are significant communities that have already been evacuated and the river in Mississippi isn’t expected to crest until May 20 or 22.
A lot of what we’ve been focused on is trying to make sure that they’re getting the help they need to evacuate, and they understand why they are leaving, and to make sure they know the process of being able to return.
Becker says the experience is good training.
As far as South Carolina goes, we like to be able to assist other states, because there’s a time that will come when we will need help in whatever disasters we may face. And so, this is great training for us to be able to go out and help in other states and see how things are done and to get that experience of working a disaster scene.
Becker says his work in Mississippi is giving him the training which may be needed one day in South Carolina.
We’d like the people at home, the people in South Carolina to pay attention to what’s going on as well, because we have several flood prone areas, and our state is susceptible to just about every natural disaster except for volcanoes.
Becker says the tornadoes and the floods combined have become the second worst disaster situation for Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina.