• 70°

Red Cross welcomes new response coordinator

The Red Cross in Brookhaven has welcomed anew face and leader for disaster response, and his mission issimple.

    “We haven’t really had a presence here in the community,” LewisHerrington explained. “So we want to get the word out that we’reactually here, and working to be prepared for major disasters.”

    The Red Cross hired Herrington at the end of August as the newCommunity Emergency Response Coordinator. He had been with the RedCross as a volunteer since 1986.

    As the new coordinator, Herrington is stationed in Brookhaven atthe office on Monticello Street, but his duties spread across a10-county area in southwestern Mississippi.

    Herrington is no stranger to the dealing with disaster. In additionto his nearly 25 years of volunteer service with the Red Cross, hespent 29 years as a firefighter for Rankin County, both as avolunteer and a paid fireman.

    “I like being out in the field and on the front lines,” hesaid.

    Herrington remembers responding to the nearly two-mile wide tornadothat ripped through the Glade community near Laurel in 1987. Hestayed for two months and went straight from there to spend 80 daysin Vicksburg responding to floods.

    He was in Clinton this past spring for 76 days after a tornadostruck. He remained in Clinton while responding to floods caused bythe surging Mississippi River in the western part of the state.

    “That’s when they (Red Cross headquarters) called me wanting myresume for this job,” he said.

    Herrington said the volunteer spirit he has comes from his desireto help people and his understanding of their need for it whendisaster strikes.

    “I absolutely love it,” he said. “It’s a good experience if youlike to help people. It’s kind of stressful though – disasters.Some of the work we do is not for everyone. There may be no powerwhere you’re going, or you may have to sleep in a tent orsomething. You definitely have to be OK roughing it sometimes.”

    There are alternatives to “front lines” work in the Red Cross thatmost people may not be aware of, Herrington said.

    “There are so many aspects of Red Cross,” he said. “If you don’twant to be in the field, or on the front lines, there’s computerwork, office work, food ordering, nurses, mental healthprofessionals, doctors. We have stuff for everybody.”

    Other volunteer positions include government liaisons, publicaffairs, response truck drivers and supply drivers among stillothers, he said.

    Herrington said his job has been nonstop since arriving inBrookhaven, meeting with local officials, authorities and otheremergency personnel. He has also been meeting with local kitchensand churches to make new contracts or renew existing ones for foodand shelter purposes when disaster strikes.

    “We’ve been working hard from the beginning trying to get it alltogether,” he said. “Constantly going, going, going.”

    He explained his main mission here in Brookhaven is to form asteadfast local Disaster Action Team (DAT). Currently, he has aboutsix volunteer DAT members in Lincoln County.

    “I would like to see our DAT team have about 50 volunteers,” hesaid. “There’s really no limit, but I’d love to see at least50.”

    According to Herrington, volunteers make up 97 percent of the RedCross. He said a new recruitment class for the community is comingup in hopes to gain interest in volunteering among Lincoln Countyresidents and Brookhavenites.

    “We need volunteers in a major way,” he said. “It needs to be acommunity effort from people here in the community who can betrained, ready to step in and ready to go.”

    For more information about donating to or volunteering for the RedCross, call 601-833-2771.