Birmingham man helping to lead Hattiesburg relief efforts - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Birmingham man helping to lead Hattiesburg relief efforts

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HOOVER - AL -

Clean up is underway in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. At least sixty people were injured and hundreds of houses and businesses were damaged by Sunday night's tornado.

A local man is heading there to help lead recovery efforts. Oscar Barnes will serve as the assistant director for the Red Cross recovery efforts. He'll help assess damage and get people back onto their feet. He's no stranger to the area or this type of situation.

Even in the dark, the tornado was impossible to miss. People in Hattiesburg captured its path through town leaving mangled lights, cars and buildings in its wake. The debris twirling with it was also visible in the night sky terrifying people as far away as Birmingham.

"It just sent a cold chill knowing people's lives are going to be affected when you see a storm like that," said Oscar Barnes, a former Mississippi resident and district emergency services officer for the Birmingham chapter of the American Red Cross.

When the sun rose, it shed more light on the disaster.

"We didn't have this in Katrina. I go back to Frederick. I've been through Frederick. This is bad. This is bad," said Nick Kolinsky, a Hattiesburg resident.

Barnes understands how bad it is. He used to work for the Red Cross in Mississippi.

"I knew it would be a hard hit and we needed to respond," said Barnes.

The situation is all too familiar for him. As was the case in Tuscaloosa on April 27th 2011, the Red Cross lost its building and hundreds of houses and businesses were damaged. He'll now return to Mississippi as the second in command for Red Cross relief efforts.

"It's about them and what we have to do to provide them with the help they need to put their lives back together," said Barnes.

Barnes says the initial damage assessment alone could take another day. He's packed for three weeks.

 

 

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