Pine Bluff police officers assisting tornado victims in Oklahoma

Four Pine Bluff police officers are in Moore, Okla., assisting authorities there following a deadly tornado Monday.

Interim Police Chief Jeff Hubanks made the announcement during a meeting of the Pine Bluff Rotary Club Tuesday, saying that the officers took two cars and will be helping out with search and rescue efforts and helping to maintain security.

Hubanks said the cars were “loaded down with bottled water and sports drinks from the local Red Cross chapter and from the department’s pantry.”

While Pine Bluff officers went to Oklahoma, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department Operations Commander Major Lafayette Woods Jr. said deputies have not been sent there.

“It’s my understanding from the governor (of Oklahoma) that they’ve got more help than they need right now, and the National Guard has also sent troops in,” Woods said.

In addition, he said Oklahoma authorities had not requested help from outside agencies as authorities did when a tornado struck Joplin, Mo., two years ago.

“If it gets to the point that they can’t handle it and they ask for help, we will assist them,” Woods said.

Also at the Rotary Club meeting Tuesday, it was announced that Salvation Army Capt. David Robinson, who is a member of the club, had been sent to Oklahoma to assist the Salvation Army with their efforts.

Another member of the club, Dan Hoggard, who is the human resources manager for the Tyson Foods plant at Pine Bluff was also not present and another club member said Hoggard was coordinating a plan to send the Tyson Foods cook team to feed tornado victims.

According to an email from the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County, the team will leave Friday and feed victims for a week. They are also collecting donations from other businesses to support the relief effort.

Evergreen Packaging and L&R Distributing have donated pallets of water that will be sent on the Tyson truck and other businesses and organizations, including the Jefferson County Manufacturing Council, have donated money.

For more information, contact Hoggard at (870) 427-7262 or (870) 643-3959.