Southaven learns how to manage a disaster

Like so many Mid-South communities, the city of Southaven has been taking a crash course in disaster relief. Southaven is learning how to run a hurricane shelter one day at a time.

But it looks like years of experience are at work at the shelter located in an old Wal-Mart building on Stateline Road. The facility is multi-purpose. It's a place to stay for some, a place to shop for those just stopping in. There's computer access, towels, toiletries, bedding, furniture, clothes are well organized and shoes are lined up waiting to be filled. The shelter didn't have showers so volunteers came in and built these showers there are 15 on each side, one side for the men and one for the women.

Despite the relentless efforts, not everyone is getting what they need. For the second day the wait has been long for those arriving at the Red Cross Center in Desoto County.

"Which was like 8:10 this morning and the line was all the way to that lightpole," said Mary Fields of Slidell, LA.

"It's just so frustrating," said Orelia Lemar who has waited in line for two days. "You're sitting here and you're not getting anywhere. And to come out here with two sets of clothing and can't get help and have to stand out here for hours and hours only to be turned away."

For the most part, though, things are running smoothly.

"So I just want to compliment the people Mississippi and Tennessee," said Stephen Miller of Jefferson Parish, LA. "Ya'll have been wonderful. I feel like I'm among brothers and sisters."

As each day brings a new lesson in an experience that no one has experienced before.

It's hard to predict when more evacuees will arrive and what their needs will be. Right now the Southaven shelter is low on new, still in the package, socks and underwear for all ages.

And they expect the need for furniture to increase as people start taking up permanent residency.