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Eyes on Katrina

A South Mississippi hurricane journal

Sunday, August 28, 2005

National Guard ready to go 

A 17-person detachment from the 890th Engineering Battalion, which is headquartered in Gulfport, is at the Harrison County Courthouse ready to help during Hurricane Katrina. "We're the 911 force," said Staff Sgt. John Freeman, who lives in Purvis. Most of this group is from Purvis, although there's one who volunteered to come over from Mobile and another who lives in Long Beach who was attached to it. Company A from Picayune is performing similar duties in Hancock County, while Company C from Columbia is in Jackson County. Freeman said they'll be the emergency responders during the height of the storm, when regular emergency vehicles can't handle the wind and rain. They have large troop transports as well as humvees stationed here at the courthouse. Larger equipment, included backhoes and bulldozers, is staged at the armory by Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and will be used in their second mission, to help clean-up roads in the aftermath of the storm. The unit has performed similar duties in Georges and Isidore. During Isidore, they were involved in the rescue at Point Cadet, where storm surge surprised residents who hadn't evacuated there. Freeman told a story from one storm where they went out trying to get a woman in labor in the neighborhood behind the Kmart in Orange Grove. While they were getting out of their vehicles, they had to duck and huddle together to avoid a roof that flew past them.

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Don Hammack

Don Hammack is a staff writer for the Sun Herald. He can be reached at

Sara Greer

Sara Greer is a news assistant for the Sun Herald.

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