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Samaritan’s Purse Responds to Hurricane Isaac, Deploys Two Disaster Relief Units to Biloxi, Miss. & New Orleans

Update: Karina Petersen, media relations coordinator for Samaritan’s Purse notified High Country Press Friday afternoon that it is responding to Hurricane Issac and has deployed two disaster relief units. One is heading to Biloxi, Miss., and the other is going to New Orleans.

Below is a previous article when the possible deployment was in limbo. 

Samaritan’s Purse Sends Program Managers To Scope Devastation of Hurricane Isaac, Possible Deployment

By Jesse Wood

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers during a previous relief effort in Biloxi, Miss., in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Aug. 30, 2012. Samaritan’s Purse has sent two program managers to the Gulf Coast to scope the devastation that Hurricane Isaac unleashed in the past few days.

On Monday, the program managers positioned themselves out of harms way in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to wait for the storm to subside, according to Karina Petersen, media relations coordinator for Samaritan’s Purse.

As of Thursday morning, the two have moved to Hattiesburg, Miss., which is an hour from the coast. The managers have been communicating with church partners of Samaritan’s Purse who are based on the Gulf Coast and happen to be some of the same people that Samaritan’s Purse helped when Hurricane Katrina struck seven years ago.

Samaritan’s Purse began preparing for Hurricane Isaac at the end of last week, and two disaster relief units for potential deployment are “ready to roll,” Petersen said.

She said no decision of a deployment, including times and places, has been made, though Petersen added that it could happen anytime.

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers during a previous relief effort in Biloxi, Miss., in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“We are focusing on Louisiana and Mississippi,” Petersen said. “Alabama officials said they could handle disaster relief on its own and do not need assistance, so we are looking to Louisiana and Mississippi to see where most relief is needed and where we can help.”

The storm has featured sustained winds of 80 mph and could potentially flood the whole Gulf Coast as the storm surges and dumps heavy rains into the region. After knocking out power to more than 700,000 customers in Louisiana, the storm was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm on Thursday morning.

If Samaritan’s Purse U.S. Disaster Relief units are deployed, Petersen said that typical Hurricane relief efforts would consist of roof repair from falling trees, cleaning up debris and would likely feature chainsaw teams.

Since flooding is an issue, too, Petersen added that teams would be deployed to clean out mud and muck from the first story of homes and basements, as well as stripping out floor boards and dry wall.

As of Thursday morning, The Times-Picayune reported that the American Red Cross had no distribution sites in the area and were awaiting safer weather conditions so “volunteer crews can fan out and assess what supplies are needed in different areas.”

So far, more than 2,700 trained Red Cross disaster volunteers have deployed into the Gulf to operate shelters for those evacuated from flooding; serve 311,000 ready-to-eat meals; and distribute other relief items, The Times-Picayune reported.

To help, Petersen suggests that people visit www.samaritanspurse.org to offer prayer and financial support and to keep up to date on how Samaritan’s Purse is responding to the situation.

If teams are needed to deploy, Samaritan’s Purse will send out a request on its website for the need of volunteers.