At around 11:00 p.m. on Friday, March 24th, Mississippi Task Force 1—a specialized team of firefighters, first responders and emergency management workers—was activated to assist with recovery after the tornado devastation in Amory and Rolling Fork, Miss.
Members with Lafayette County Emergency Management, Lafayette County Fire Department and Oxford Fire Department are assigned to this task force.
“The team I was on was tasked with clearing 911 calls and responding to structural collapses,” Lafayette County Public Information Officer Beau Moore said. “Then we transitioned to search and rescue operations with other members of the team that had been doing so since we all arrived.”
Moore, also a Lafayette County firefighter, joined Task Force 1 two years ago. There are over 120 Task Force 1 members across Mississippi, each holding certifications in critical skills, such as overland search and rescue, trench rescue, structural collapse and hazmat incident responses.
After supporting recovery efforts in Amory, Task Force 1 traveled to Rolling Fork to respond to their disaster needs. The team remained on-duty for 24 hours, answering 911 calls and performing grid searches in affected areas. Despite the long hours, Task Force 1 was determined to provide assistance to those affected by the severe weather.
“We’re there for people in need,” Moore said. “And when we’re done, we go to the next spot of people in need.”
Severe Weather Safety Tips
With tornado season picking up, Moore urged residents to have multiple ways to receive severe weather alerts. Opting in to alerts and coordinating a severe weather plan can not only ensure your safety. It also aids Task Force 1’s responsibilities.
“Do not depend on a tornado siren,” Moore added. “It is an outdoor warning sign, which means it is only meant for you to hear them outdoors.”
Knowing where you can get accurate weather details is crucial. The Lafayette County Emergency Management Twitter, broadcast news and weather radios are helpful channels for accessing up-to-date information.
Finally, an important part of anyone’s weather plan is locating your nearest storm shelter. There are multiple storm shelters across Lafayette County. To find the storm shelter closest to you, check out the Lafayette Storm Shelter list here.
Photos by Beau Moore