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DMR helps train visiting first responders for high water hurricane duty

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HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Emergency responders from central Mississippi toured area waterways Wednesday. They're part of a task force that could be deployed to the coast during a hurricane.

DMR officers are quite familiar with the area waterways. Their training assignment was to transfer that local knowledge to visiting first responders from Rankin and Madison counties.

"This is Cedar Lake Road here, which you can access off the interstate and come right here to launch if you had to," said DMR officer Brian Wallace, as he explained things to one of the visiting responders.

This workshop on the water included a tour of Bayou Bernard, Biloxi Bay and the Tchoutacabouffa River.

"We get the opportunity to show them the area, because a lot of times these guys come in, they're trained, they're professionals and great at what they do," said the DMR's Patrick Levine, "The problem is, they don't know where they're working at and the area they don't know. So what these guys have done is they brought their GPS's with 'em. They brought charts. They brought plots and what they'll do is look at all the areas they will be working."

"Lowe's is right here?" asked Michael Gober from Madison County.

"Lowe's is right there," his DMR partner replied.

"Okay, I know where I am," said Gober.

He is with Madison County emergency management and says learning the coastal waterways will be a big help for future storm deployments here.

"It's been a good day. We've familiarized ourselves with some of the waterways down here. It's a little different from what we're used to on the Ross Barnett reservoir in Jackson. Learning about how the flood works. How the tide works," Gober explained.

One important aspect of this high water plan is pre-deployment. Some of these responders from central Mississippi may be called upon as early as 72 hours before the arrival of a tropical storm or hurricane.

"A lot of these guys have spent time training in swift water response. They've spent a lot of time training in collapsed house and collapsed environments, going into small quarters in the event we do have a storm," said Levine.

Thanks to the training tour, they'll also be more familiar with the waters they may be working.

The hurricane training also includes classroom instruction. The visiting emergency responders are learning which neighborhoods in South Mississippi are most prone to flooding.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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