Lessons after Katrina: How MEMA has changed - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Lessons after Katrina: How MEMA has changed

By Ashley Conroy

PEARL, MS (WLBT) - Five years after Hurricane Katrina, emergency responders have learned lessons of their own including the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

Director of Mitigation for MEMA Bill Brown says the most haunting memory is the fact that all communication was down for about 24 hours after the storm.

"The fact was, we didn't know. And that's what stands out in my mind most was our communications were totally down all cell phones, all phones," Brown said.

Inside the walls of the 70-thousand square-foot facility in Pearl, are pictures of the devastation from Katrina. Those at MEMA say it's a constant reminder of the lessons learned five years later.

Since then, much as changed. The Pearl facility was first operational almost a year post Katrina.

The State Emergency Command Center back then was 500 square feet. Now, the command center is four-thousand square feet.

In addition, Governor Haley Barbour requested $140 million from Congress for an "interoperable" communications network, which would be called the "Mississippi Wireless Integrated Network".

With the help of $70 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce, $17 million from the Department of Justice, and $57 million in state bonds, MSWIN has been operational in southern Mississippi for about a year.

Brown says the goal is to have MSWIN running state-wide by December 2011.

"And for the first time no matter what the discipline is that is responding to, the call, they'll be able to communicate with each other," said Brown.

MEMA reports that MSWIN was most recently used during the oil spill in the gulf. They distributed more than 200 radios to help boat operators respond to reports of oil from a spotter aircraft.

Since Katrina, MEMA also added a warehouse that houses thousands of goods inside such as water, disaster meals, blankets and cots.

MEMA Spokesperson Greg Flynn says the goal was to have necessities readily available when a disaster strikes.

Flynn says these goods can reach anywhere in the state within four hours.

With new disaster preparations, technology and communication, Brown says the ultimate test of a successful operations are the minds behind the work.

"You've got to be able to work together, communicate together and be able to respond together. And together we can make it work," said Brown.

©2010 WLBT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

  • More Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • Invest 90L likely poses little to no threat to SWLA

    Invest 90L likely poses little to no threat to SWLA

    Invest 90L likely poses little to no threat to SWLA

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 10:21 AM EDT2018-05-23 14:21:48 GMT
    Spaghetti plot for Invest 90LSpaghetti plot for Invest 90L

    The National Hurricane Center continues to highlight an area in Gulf of Mexico for potential tropical development over the next five days. This area to watch is currently located south of the Yucatan Peninsula and strong wind shear will keep this area at a 0% chance of development over the next couple of days before increasing late-week and weekend as it pushes into the Gulf of Mexico.

    More >>

    The National Hurricane Center continues to highlight an area in Gulf of Mexico for potential tropical development over the next five days. This area to watch is currently located south of the Yucatan Peninsula and strong wind shear will keep this area at a 0% chance of development over the next couple of days before increasing late-week and weekend as it pushes into the Gulf of Mexico.

    More >>
  • Jeff Davis Police Jury Meeting today.

    Jeff Davis Police Jury Meeting today.

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 8:22 AM EDT2018-05-23 12:22:03 GMT
    The Jeff Davis Police Jury will be voting to certify the results of a special election held last month. The election resulted in renewal of a special tax. Police Jurors will meet this evening at 5 p.m. in the police jury meeting room on 204 State Street in Jennings. Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.More >>
    The Jeff Davis Police Jury will be voting to certify the results of a special election held last month. The election resulted in renewal of a special tax. Police Jurors will meet this evening at 5 p.m. in the police jury meeting room on 204 State Street in Jennings. Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.More >>
  • Vinton High School senior receives over $1 million in scholarships

    Vinton High School senior receives over $1 million in scholarships

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 6:50 AM EDT2018-05-23 10:50:11 GMT
    (Source: KPLC)(Source: KPLC)

    A high school senior at Vinton received over $1 million in scholarship money. 

    More >>

    A high school senior at Vinton received over $1 million in scholarship money. 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly