Biloxi firefighters part of Laura response

Three members of the Biloxi Fire Department – a deputy chief and two firefighters – are being deployed to the Hurricane Laura disaster zone today as part of Mississippi Task Force 3.

Laura grew today into a Category 4 hurricane. Forecasters feared a 20-foot storm surge that would be “unsurvivable” and capable of decimating entire communities. Coastal residents of Texas and Louisiana were asked to evacuate. The storm, drawing energy from warm Gulf waters, was on track to arrive late Wednesday or early Thursday and be the most powerful hurricane to strike the U.S. so far this year.

Meanwhile, Biloxi Fire Chief Joe Boney said Deputy Chief Nick Geiser and Firefighters Cameron Whiteside and Chuck Parker will use a fire department Urban Search and Rescue unit and an inflatable boat.

“They will be performing search and rescue, but mainly water rescue at first,” Boney said. “At this point, we understand they will be working in the Baton Rouge area, but we do not know how long the deployment will last.”

Mississippi has three task forces, which are made up of individuals trained for all-hazards response and rescue. A task force is activated by MEMA after a request from FEMA, Boney said, and responding team members work at the direction of FEMA. Task Force 3, which can draw from 80 first responders throughout south Mississippi, is based in south Mississippi. Task Force 2 is in the central part of the state, and Task Force 1 is in the north Mississippi.

What to expect: Biloxi and Harrison County continue to be under a storm surge watch and small craft advisory.

Tides could be two to four feet above normal, and some roads may become impassable through the night and morning hours. High tide in Biloxi Bay will be at 5:56 a.m. on Thursday.

Southerly southeast winds will continue today and help build water in the bays, low areas and in the rivers, says Matt Stratton, Harrison County’s deputy emergency manager: “Winds will need to be monitored throughout the day. As the storm continues to approach Texas-Louisiana, please remember tropical force winds do extend out 175 miles.”
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