86 days left in 2020: First responders feel hurricane fatigue after long year of disasters

86 days left in 2020: First responders feel hurricane fatigue after long year of disasters

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Ana Brett lives in Saucier. She’s seeing the immediate preparations for Hurricane Delta up close, but says some people don’t seem that concerned.

“We’ve had three close calls and it’s getting to be exhausting and it’s kind of like nah, it’s not going to hit us,” she said. “That’s the worst way to feel right now.”

But around the state, the first responders who have to be ready at every threat of a disaster have to take it seriously every time.

It started with the historic flooding early this year, and with tornadoes and coronavirus coming in strong behind them.

It’s been a rough year. Copiah County Emergency Management Director Randle Drane says responders are wiped out physically and emotionally.

“This has been the worst year for challenging emergency management and you’ve just had to stay on your tiptoes because you don’t know what’s going to come around the next day,” said Drane. “It can be very stressful. You look at, you’re trying to protect the whole community. And it’s just difficult when you have so many disasters happening at once.”

Rankin County EOC Director Mike Word says it’s a sustained effort. There have been months at a time that his employees have worked 7 days a week.

And now it’s hurricane season.

“It’s just relentless. It just seems to never stop, and it is tiring, it truly is, and you’ve got to get some stand down time,” Word said.

Deputy EOC Director Brian Grantham encouraged leaders in the emergency profession to keep tabs on their employees at a time like this.

“Add in all the psychological effects of Covid on top of the daily jobs of firefighting, law enforcement or EMS, we have to be really concerned with the fatigue that they get,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hurricane fatigue may as well be 2020 fatigue.

“I’m ready for 2020 in general to just be gone, just go away,” Brett said.

Word said it’s mutual.

“Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? I don’t know but I can tell you this. There’s only 86 more days left in 2020. Not that I’m counting,” he said.

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