• 61°

Emergency services stand ready to respond if needed

Brookhaven, known as a “Homeseeker’s’ Paradise,” is usuallyhospitable and accommodating in welcoming guests to town.

The early part of next week could bring an unwelcome visitorfrom the south, however, and his name is Gustav.

“I guess we rode out Katrina, and if we can do that, we can doanything,” said Lincoln County Civil Defense Director CliffordGaley. “But residents need to be aware that it’s coming and beprepared.”

Those preparations have begun all over the city and the county,with conference calls between local, state and national officials,and meetings beginning today between elected officials.

“We have tested all our generators to make sure we can operatethe water wells and will be able to operate the lift stations if wego without power,” said Mayor Bob Massengill. “And we’ll prioritizewhich of our wells we need to get power to first when thatsituation occurs.”

Entergy Customer Service Account Manager Kenny Goza said lookingat early indicators, it’s almost a definite that the Lincoln Countyarea will experience some power loss, at least for a littlewhile.

“More or less, we’re mapping our strategy, figuring out what arethe priorities, and what we’re working on and we’re thinking aboutthe unknown,” he said. “First of all, we make sure all ourequipment is ready.”

Goza said preparations are also being made in case help from allover the country needs to come in to help with outages all the waydown to the coast and into Louisiana.

“We begin setting up staging areas for help coming in fromoutside the area, and we’ve got truck sites we’ve secured alreadylined up to stage as a work site with so many folks coming in,” hesaid, adding there were also mapping packets available for theoutside help in case they need to find their way around thecounty.

King’s Daughters Medical Center Emergency Medical ServicesDispatcher Catherine Ainsworth said EMS workers have been makingpreparations to insure that they will be ready if and when the timecomes.

“We got Hazmat uniforms yesterday, the entire hospital got asemi truckload of personal protective equipment yesterday, andwe’re stockpiling water and things,” she said. “We’re just makingsure we have plenty of supplies in our stockroom to restock theambulances and making sure we have extra, and we’re insuring allthe trucks are in running shape.”

Ainsworth said EMS is also compiling a list of qualified medicalpersonnel who can be on call in case more emergency medicalassistance is needed.

And officials are offering the public words of advice onpreparation and safety. Galey said an emergency kit is a must.

“Know what ought to be in your preparedness kit,” he said,adding that a good list is available at www.msema.org. “DuringKatrina we had several people who went two weeks or longer withoutpower, and there are lots of people still on well water, so if theyhave no power, they have no water.”

Goza said people with generators need to be especially carefulas well.

“We know that everyone is going to be reacting to the storm. Asyou begin to try to get a generator or something to get electricityto your home, please be careful and get someone qualified to hookup a generator,” he said. “That is so dangerous, and a lot ofpeople get hurt on generators. Please be safe and have someone whois a certified electrician help you with that.”

Galey said emergency workers will have their hands full when thebrunt of the storm arrives. While help from citizens isappreciated, their safety is much more important.

“Again I just want to caution folks, we always have a lot ofhelp and we all appreciate that very much, but if somethinghappens, don’t get out of your home until it’ll be safer,” he said.”The emergency workers will do their job, part of which is keepingyou safe.”

Galey also said in talks today, he expects to hear fromLouisiana when southbound highways and interstates will need to becontraflowed.

“I would expect Louisiana will ask us to contraflow(Interstates) 55 and 59,” he said. “And all the lanes will flownorth for people who are getting out of the storm’s path.”

And as far as local impact, Galey said so far there’s just noway to tell at this point what Lincoln County will see.

“I don’t know what kind of damage it will do,” Galey said.

County and city officials were to meet with Galey at 11 a.m.Thursday to discuss the incoming storm.