Hurricane Season 2010: Part Two

By Colleen Donovan - bio | email

HATTIESBURG, MS. (WDAM) - At Wesley Medical Center, Director of Plant Services Rodney Gresham and Judy Gill, the hospital's Safety Chair, prepare each year for a major storm event. This year Wesley revised their emergency operations plan.

According to Gill, "It has phone numbers, updated plans for us. It has schedules of who would be working in case we did have a disaster."

During Katrina, Wesley's generators kept the hospital functioning. Rodney Gresham said those generators are being maintained and a well was added since the storm for cooling purposes.

"Our new corporate company has also now backed us with generators they keep on the coastal areas for any of their coastal hospitals and they can have them to us within six to eight hours," said Gresham.

At Forrest General Hospital, they constructed a 13 million dollar facility dedicated to making sure they can run smoothly in the event of a catastrophe. Wayne Landers is the hospital's Director of Public Safety.

Landers said, "In evaluating the aftermath of the storm, trying to be as prepared as we can be for whatever is to come, we made the decision that we needed to put this power plant in."

The plant includes a 7.5 mega watt generator plant, with three 2.5 mega watt caterpillar generators, and an option for a fourth.

Another change Forrest General Hospital has made since Hurricane Katrina is upgrading their water supply. For example, the hospital constructed a 750-thousand gallon water tower.

The Hattiesburg Fire Department has also learned lessons in how to better deal with the aftermath of a storm. Chief David Webster cites improved personnel training and the addition of emergency power.

"That we really didn't have after Katrina. Now with emergency generators at each station, we are much better prepared to handle a base of operations and have a workable platform on which to respond to the aftermath of a storm," said Webster.

The Fire Department has also made shift changes to more effectively respond to a natural disaster.

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