Starkville sends nine for Hurricane Michael relief and rescue

Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

The city of Starkville is sending five Starkville Utilities workers and four Starkville firefighters to Florida for hurricane Michael relief and rescue efforts Thursday.

Five Starkville Utilities workers will make their way to Tallahassee, Florida for relief efforts early Thursday morning, while four SFD firefighters left Starkville Tuesday at noon to begin heading toward Panama City, Florida.


Starkville Utilities General Manager Terry Kemp said the Starkville Utilities relief efforts are in response to a request from the Tallahassee municipality Tuesday.

“Tallahassee actually put the call out,” Kemp said. “We’re part of a larger network of municipal systems that help each other in case of an emergency and this fits into that category.”

“We’ll be there with a lot of other utilities departments once Tallahassee assesses the damage,” Kemp said. “It would be the same thing if we had a big problem.”

“A lot of times we like to lean on our friends and people in the business to come help us,” Kemp added.

Starkville utilities is sending Starkville Utilities General Foreman David Leal, Starkville Utilities Underground Crew Chief David Hatfield, Starkville Utilities Overhead Crew Chief Brad Scarbrough, Starkville Utilities Apprentice Lineman Todd Giles and Starkville Utilities Apprentice Lineman Justin Hatcher.

The Starkville crew will also be taking one digger, two bucket trucks and two regular trucks with them. The crew does not currently know their relief mission once they arrive in Tallahassee.

“Our guys will just be filling in,” Kemp said. “If you can envision a lot of pole structures and everything on the ground— it’s going to have to be rebuilt— which is harder than building (from scratch) because you’ve got to clear it, get it out of the way and then put it back up.”

Leal said the crew would be briefed by someone in Tallahassee when they arrive, who will then take them to their worksite.

Leal said although the crew was set to leave Wednesday afternoon, the trip was delayed.

“We’ll be leaving at 6 a.m. (Thursday morning),” Leal said.

“If we leave right now,” Leal said on Wednesday. “We’ll be in the eye of the storm by the time we get there, so Tallahassee said to leave in the morning.”

“By the time we leave at 6 a.m. and get there, they’ll have an assessment of the power outages and they’ll be able to get us our work,” Leal added.

Kemp said the delay in the plans would help Tallahassee plan the necessary relief efforts as well.

The crew is also currently uncertain of the length of their deployment.

“From our standpoint, we’re going at their request, committed to helping as long as we can,” Kemp said. “Right now, we’re going into this without an understanding of what we’re going to deal with or how long it’s going to take.”

“We’re glad we can help out,” Kemp concluded. “We’re all in this together.”


The SFD members left Starkville as members of the Mississippi Task Force Tuesday, traveling through Meridian, Mississippi to Mobile, Alabama.

SFD Sgt. Matt Schober said the crew was in Niceville, Florida Wednesday, and they will leave for Panama City at 5 a.m. Thursday morning.

The Mississippi Task Force is deploying Schober, SFD Lt. Justin Edwards, SFD Sgt. Nathan Herndon and SFD Firefighter Blake Daniels.

The crew will mainly be performing search and rescue efforts while they are in Panama City.

The deployment timeline is currently uncertain.

“I think they’ll be back when they get back. That’s what they told me yesterday,” SFD Chief Charles Yarbrough said.

“When they get to Florida, they’re going to be on standby for their rescue mission,” Yarbrough said. “because of course, a lot of people stayed back, so they’re going to go in and make sure those people are taken care of.”

Yarbrough said the SFD crew is ready for their rescue mission.

“Our guys have trained so hard to be able to do this so they’re excited about going,” Yarbrough said. “Of course, they know a lot could go on when they are down there, so they have to be careful as well, but they’re excited about getting to go help people from a different state.”

Yarbrough said he is grateful to have nine members of the Starkville community serving in Florida.

“I think it’s a great thing— having our guys down there and on top of that having the guys from Starkville utilities out there as well,” Yarbrough said. “It’s good for our city, but I think the biggest thing with that is it’s good for the citizens in Florida.”

“We all should be helping our neighbors— not just our neighbors across the street but the neighbors across the state line too,” Yarbrough concluded.