Back-to-back disasters strain relief agencies

By Mike McDaniel - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - When disaster strikes in Mississippi, folks like Tamica Smith-Jeuitt spring into action.

"It's been very busy and of course we prepare all year long for events like this and so we have a plan it's just putting that plan in place," said Smith-Jeuitt.

With recent tornadoes, upcoming floods and hurricane season around the corner, relief agencies in the Magnolia State like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are working around the clock and in some cases trying to beat it, getting resources where they're needed.

"This is stretching us thin, but not to the point of breaking. We have a lot of resources available to us," said Salvation Army emergency services director Bill Feist.

While being stretched thin, the needs during recovery continue to grow, often times larger than what it takes to meet them.

"The one resource that is stretched thin that's much harder to replace is our financial resources. It takes money to run an operation like this," said Feist.

A financial need on top of a need for volunteers, who Smith-Jeuitt says, really make the difference.

"I definitely would appreciate someone being there for me if I've lost everything, so that's what it's all about, helping your fellow man," said Smith-Jeuitt.

A new addition for the Salvation Army and the state is a fully equipped commercial kitchen on wheels. It's called the field kitchen and can serve up to 10,000 meals a day. It's first stop will be in Alabama.

"We use that to supply our smaller mobile kitchens who will then go out into the field and provide meals to people in their neighborhoods," said Feist.

That's just where disaster agencies will continue to be as well.

"We believe very firmly that we need to be out there immediately serving people," said Feist.

"We're there until the needs are met, we do scale back after a while and just until the calls stop coming," said Smith-Jeuitt.

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