Going to MS


kart racer
September 26, 2005, 07:21 PM
Finally got notice today that I would be going to MS. to work some flood/dmg claims.I'm an appraiser for an insurance company,but only handle vehicles.In central MS the company now has 5000+ claims.I went to college in AL,but we'll be working around Laurel MS I believe.Anyone on here from around there?Just wondering what the gas,hotel,etc...situation was like.We'll be leaving the end of this week or the weekend.

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September 26, 2005, 11:03 PM
I know people around Laurel and know a lot more on the Gulf Coast.

Need a guide or a bodyguard?
Doubtful your company would spring for one though. Oh well....

I'm not currently that far South so I can't give you a clear personal update, but the last time I was down there, the area south of you starts to look bad very quickly. There was also some storm damage from Katrina and Rita...tornados and similar over the last few days.

Rumors are that the hotels are approaching capacity in many places but some people have come and gone as their situation has improved. You can probably find lodging if you look around. If the hotel is a large national chain, you can call and find out if their area hotel has rooms are not. Might be good to call ahead and reserve a room.

Gas is available, but there are quite a lot of people who travel from the coast to buy it. Also, the Pres. says local shortages may occur after Rita. I'd suggest a couple of full spare gas cans as a possible hedge against "loss of momentum". ;)

I'd bring some cash money as well as credit cards. The credit card companies have been iffy on occasion the last couple of weeks. If you need more and can't find it, post a message on this board and I'll bring you some at a highly inflated rate of exchange....an ungodly high price in fact.....back breaking......but it will be gas.

Also...don't know what your company policy is....but bring a firearm. You don't have to carry it around with you all the time, but I'd have it in my car and hotel room at a minimum. If you have to go to the Gulfport/Biloxi area, you might need the gun for hazards not normally encountered. Wild dogs, snakes, alligators....hopheads, gang bangers, displaced serial killers etc.

You will almost certainly encounter some anger or depression because of the loss...both financial and personal....that people have experienced as you travel closer to the Gulf Coast. If you aren't a naturally sympathetic person, then attempt to fake it when confronted by anger. More likely you'll just see depression and helplessness. Prepare yourself for that NOW...it might help you cope better. Also...learn how to chat. Don't just hit business in the first ten seconds, unless it looks like the person wants that. Ask them what happened...express sympathy (fake or not) when people describe the bad events. Reassure them of your good will and helpfulness (real or imagined) and your company's efforts (hopefully honest) to meet the requirements of their claims. If you do all this, people will be more well disposed toward you than if you come off as "Mr. Unfeeling Business Type".

Bring pecan pie and a friendly smile and you'll probably never feel like you left Alabama. If your company has any USEFUL trinkets to pass out as customer gifts....clothing (even T-shirts), ice coolers, bottled water, flip flops, or some other gear that people could possibly USE....then bring them as advertisements, or as gifts for the unfriendly natives. Perhaps you could offer these and say something like: "We at (insert your highly dubious insurance company's name here) CARE about you and want to keep you as customers for a long time. We were PERSONALLY upset to hear about the loss you've experienced and we want to do everything we can to help you through this difficult time."

Be sincere (or be a fine actor) and you'll be fine.

September 27, 2005, 01:31 AM
I know people around Laurel and know a lot more on the Gulf Coast.

We might know some of the same people. I lived in Jones County of 28 years. Might we know one another?

kart racer
September 27, 2005, 11:35 AM
Bora,I live in NC now,went to school in AL in the early 80's.I've worked hurricane disasters before.I really wanted to come to MS to help out,because I had a lot of friends from there when I was in school.I think the people will know I'm being sincere when we meet.I was just curious about essentials situation.Thanks for the update.

September 27, 2005, 01:35 PM
I'm in the Jackson area. Gas is available here with no lines, but some stations still have none. Hotels have been full due to Rita, but I suspect some vacancies exist now. Guns are generally legal in cars for 18+ sane, sober, lawful adults.

kart racer
September 27, 2005, 02:34 PM
45Critter,the 1st group that went down was staying in Meridian when they first got there,they have moved but I don't know where to.We're just waiting to find out exactly where we're going and who to report to.

kart racer
September 27, 2005, 03:58 PM
Just found out we'll be in Gulfport,Sunday..

September 27, 2005, 05:24 PM
Gas is available as someone above stated, diesel may be harder to come by.
As of a few weeks ago I was informed there was no diesel south of Tupelo. On the way down I gassed up every hour or hour and a hald simply because i didn't know how the gas situation was.

Im talking to a friend from MS now and she is telling me the gas stations are no longer limiting how much gas you can buy at one time. When I was there recently you could only buy 10 bucks worth at a time.

September 27, 2005, 11:08 PM
Just found out we'll be in Gulfport,Sunday..

Meridian is pretty far from Gulfport. Someone in your company has decided to throw you into the deep end. From what I understand, Gulfport was hit very hard. Meridian is probably okay, but I'd suspect that a lot of Gulfport is going to look like a war zone. I wasn't able to get close on one of my recent adventures down that way (road blocks) but I could probably make it down there now.

I've lived and worked in Gulfport...so I'll give you some advice.

The more prosperous areas of the town are nearer the ocean...a better view for the richer folk. These neighborhoods are typcially near the beach. These were largely destroyed, I'm sure. Most of your work will be in these areas. The places that you will have to be careful are in the poorer neighborhoods. These were dangerous even BEFORE the hurricane...I could tell you some stories. These areas are scattered around the city in small pockets but a larger area of poor people is in the northern part of Gulfport, but just south of Interstate 10. Yes, they are predominately African American...but the ethnicity of the people isn't the factor in why it is dangerous. Poverty is. They are poor and typically always have been. Therefore, most of the crime that occurs in the city is either in these neighborhoods, or are committed by people from these areas. With the current situation wherein even "good" neighborhoods are destroyed, I would expect these neighborhoods to have deteroriated even further. Gangs are big in these areas. The BGD is the predominate gang, I'd say. The other gang is similar to the Los Angeles Bloods...they wear red clothing. BEFORE the hurricane, it was common to see people walking around with guns in these neighborhoods. These neighborhoods have nicknames like Turnkey, or the housing project area of RedBall, and the area that is south of the airport and east of Highway 49....can't remember the name for it...but most of the streets have the names of Presidents.

If I were you, I'd learn were these areas where (ask some local cops) and take all appropriate precautions when going there. Not that you'll get much call....they probably couldn't afford insurance in the first place. Try not to travel in these areas though...especially after dark. One of my friends was once dragged from his car and raped in these neighborhoods when he made the mistake of attempting to buy.....well, nevermind what he was attempting to buy....let's call it a leafy pharmacutical product. ;)

You might want to seek lodging somewhere in Orange Grove...which is not technically part of Gulfport but really seems to be connected to Gulfport. It is north of I-10.

Were I you, I'd take plenty of food and water, some type of concealable firearm, and a few extra cans of gas for emergencies...you might not need them now but why take a chance?

The news reports about your profession aren't very positive in our local papers right now. Stories about insurance companies refusing to pay off claims have been on the front page for three days in a row in one form or another. Expect that you might not be well received, but if you ARE well received, it will feel like a bonus to you.

If you have any latitude in your job decisions...try to err on the side of your human heart.
Good luck.

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