HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT-TV) – Oscar Barnes is using his expertise to help the Central Alabama Red Cross office prepare for disasters. Barnes was the executive director in Biloxi, Gulf Port, Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina and Ivan. He had to deal with major evacuations and a devastated Gulf coast. He said some communities had nothing left. The storm surge pulled homes and boats miles inland.
He then moved his role as executive director of the Red Cross in Tuscaloosa and was faced with the overwhelming challenge of the April 27th 2011 tornado outbreak. Barnes believes his experience from Katrina helped him run a successful disaster response team. Some of the big lessons learned for Barnes and the Red Cross. Being prepared with lots of supplies at all times. Also to have a plan for volunteers.
Hurricane Katrina hit on the morning of August 29, 2005. It was a strong category 4 hurricane with max sustained winds of 175 mph. It devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast and crushed the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. The massive storm surge collapsed the cities levee system leading to catastrophic flooding for weeks. More than 1,800 people died and the costs are near $108 billion dollars.