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Local groups to help with Hurricane Sandy aftermath

NATCHEZ — After weathering their fair share of hurricanes, local emergency response and power crews are heading to the northeastern United States to assist a region reeling from the hurricane turned superstorm, Sandy.

The storm, which caused a projected $20 billion in damage, had a death toll of at least 48 and left 8.2 million people without power Tuesday evening.

In response, Entergy is sending 850 crewmen to help in the hurricane recovery. Entergy Spokesman Tim Runnels said three of those were coming from Entergy’s southwest Mississippi region, and two of them were from Natchez.

And the contribution to the recovery effort is just a matter of returning a favor.

“We always support those people because during hurricanes that have hit us in the past, they supported us,” Runnels said.

Each Entergy region sent a few men in order to help so no one would be spread too thin, Runnels said.

“We had to balance that with the fact that we didn’t want to have (too many) gone so if we have a problem here we can’t handle it,” he said.

Adams County Civil Defense Director Stan Owens said the state has sent 25 Mississippi Emergency Management Agency employees to the affected area to assist with logistics work, and MEMA has sent out a general call for emergency management employees to volunteer to respond if needed.

Owens said he was evaluating Tuesday if he would put his name out for the recovery effort deployment.

“Nearly every state assisted Mississippi following Katrina, and this is one way Mississippi is repaying those who helped us in our time of need,” he said.

“We have received so much from so many that Mississippi feels we should offer any assistance we can.”

Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association Spokeswoman Azalea Knight said the co-operative was on standby in case a sister co-operative needed their assistance, but as of Tuesday SMEPA had not received a request to respond.

American Red Cross Capital River Natchez Office Director Debra Davis said she did not know who would be sent to the recovery effort, but the Mississippi branch of the Red Cross would be sending volunteers to help.