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In late August, Mandy McNatt was deployed to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where winds of up to 100 mph from a storm known as a derecho damaged more than 800 buildings including 20 schools.

Published Sep 15th, 2020

By Casandra Andrews
candrews@health.southalabama.edu

In 2005, Mandy McNatt lost her home in Biloxi, Miss., when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Upper Gulf Coast. As she and her family picked up the pieces, the wife and young mother sought assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Soon after, she went to work for FEMA to assist others in the aftermath of one of the nation’s worst natural disasters.

After a decade helping communities across the United States, McNatt left FEMA in 2015 to pursue a career in nursing. Four years later she rejoined the federal agency and also began working as a part-time employee with USA Health Family Medicine. This summer, McNatt, an LPN, transferred to the COVID-19 testing site when it moved to Ladd Stadium in June 2020.

“She let me know on day one, that if FEMA called she would have to pick up and leave,” said Sarah Kahalley, MSHA, BSN, RN, Director of Clinical Resources for USA Health Physicians. “Mandy worked in multiple roles here and always volunteered additional hours after work and on weekends.”

In late August, McNatt received a phone call from FEMA. She was being deployed to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where winds of up to 100 mph from a storm known as a derecho damaged more than 800 buildings including 20 schools. A week after the storm, on Aug. 20, media outlets reported that at least 50,000 customers remained without power in the region.

McNatt said goodbye to her husband and teenage children and headed to the devastated area as part of the FEMA Cadre of Individual Assistance, a group tasked with ensuring that individuals and families affected by disasters have access to all FEMA programs.

“I have a special place in my heart for disaster victims,” McNatt said. “I believe you should help everyone you can and I want to make sure survivors are getting the help they need.”

In her role, McNatt is communicating with storm survivors about available disaster assistance programs as well as supporting the delivery of lifesaving and life-sustaining services to those in need.

“She has been a huge support to us the entire time,” Kahalley said of McNatt’s work at the COVID-19 test site. “Her selflessness has been an inspiration to the whole team. We are proud to call Mandy one of our own.”

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