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Historical Data

See and learn about the history of the Jones County EOC and disasters that have affected our area since the 1960s

Jan 25, 1969

Disaster Forever Remembered

In 1969, prior to the official formation of the Jones County Civil Defense, a disaster not-soon-forgotten struck in the heart of Laurel, Mississippi. Considered to be one of the worst disasters to hit the area, the effects were seen for miles. In the early morning January 25th, a train derailed, resulting in the explosion of 16 tanker cars filled with tens of thousands of
gallons of propane gas.

The incident killed three people, hospitalized thirty-nine people, and destroyed several homes and businesses. Many witnesses described the intense heat and loud booming sound as each tanker car exploded, sending tanks high into the air. Mrs. Dace, a witness recalling the events stated, "those big tanks were flying through the air and people were in the street."  

Several witnesses recall thinking that their city was under attack, due to the Vietnam War.  

It was reported that the bright glow from the explosions could be seen as far away as Jackson.

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Jan, 1970

Civil Defense Director Named

Out of an abundance of caution and some level of fear, Civil Defense agencies were established across the nation to support and safeguard local communities against the threat of nuclear war. What is now known as the Jones County Emergency Operations Center was initially dubbed the Civil Defense for the city and the county. 

in January of 1970, the Board of Supervisors officially named a Director for the local Civil Defense. Carl Carlos became the first, paid director to oversee the ongoing development of the Civil Defense program and was highly instrumental in several well-known disasters from 1970 to 2000, as well as the implementation of several systems we use today.

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Oct, 1970

First Siren Test

In October of 1970, Civil Defense Director Carl Carlos established the first test of the outdoor warning siren. The siren, which was located in Laurel, was originally built as a means to alert citizens to an impending air attack. In later years, more sirens would be erected to provide outdoor warning in the event of severe weather, such as tornadoes. 

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Sep, 1970

Preparedness Tested

On September 25th, 2970, Laurel and Jones County unterwent a simulated nuclear explosion. The Emergency Operations simulation was sponsored by the local Civil Defense Council and held at the National Guard Armory.

It was designed to establish a precedence on the manner in which local government will function in the case of such an emergency. All resources in Jones County were tested on paper.

The availability of fallout shelters and the capability of shelter managers were studied. According to CD Director carl Carlos, Laurel was to receive a community shelter plan. The plan contained maps and needed information telling persons where to go in the event of an emergency.

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Jun, 1971


In June of 1971, a National Emergency Warning System (NAWAS) was installed at the Laurel Police Department. The system proided direct communication across the state in the event of emergencies. 

Civil Defense Director Carl Carlos played a major role in obtaining and implementing this system to better prepare for and protect against manmade and natural disasters.

Two months later, in August of '71, a NAWAS was installed in the Civil Defense Office located, at that time, in the City Hall Annex.

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Nov, 1971

Protection from Fallout

On November 23rd, 1971, Carl Carlos announced that buildings will provide fallout shelter protection for 65,145 people. "This fallout protection in an important part of our community shelter plan, 100 per cent of the daytime downtown, county and municipal population has fallout protection," said Carlos.

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Apr, 1974

Great Flood

In April of 1974, a terrible flood affected Jones County, forcing hundreds of citizens to evacuate and flee their homes. It was recorded that the flood of '74 was the worst in 10 years. Civil Defense Director Carl Carlos said "the amount of property damage (was) expected to exceed a million dollars," which was a lot for that time period. Between a Friday reading and a Sunday reading, the Tallahala Creak rose from five feet to almost twenty-three feet; flood stage is around thirteen feet.

More than 500 homes and 2,000 people were evacuated in Jones County, and the evacuees were sent to emergency shelters at the Oak Park School, Salvation Army, churches and private homes.

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Sep, 1975

Alert System Approved

In September of 1975, a radio-controlled outdoor warning system was approved by the Laurel City Council. 

Civil Defense Director Carl Carlos explained that the first siren to be purchased is just one of many. Six others would eventually be purchased, which would result in the entire city of Laurel having outdoor warning coverage in the event of a "natural or nuclear disaster." 

In 2018, we have several outdoor warning sirens spread across the entire county. In October of 1976, one of these additional sirens was erected in Sandersville.

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Dec, 1986

Enhanced 911

In 1986, the proposition for the Enhanced 911 system came to the attention of the citizens and officials of Jones County. The E911 system enables first responders to effectively locate individuals who are injured or incapacitated in such a way that it is difficult for the person to relay located information to the 911 dispatcher. 

Although at that particular time in 1986 Jones County did not have the E911 system, the idea of obtaining such a system was on the minds of elected officials, who were vying for support through the state Legislature to obtain the system.

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Feb, 1987

Glade Tornado

What is now known as the 'Glade Tornado', this destructive storm ripped through Jones County in February of 1987. 

The storm leveled homes, killed and injured many, and completely wiped the Glade Elementary School off of its foundation. Many people are thankful that the storm swept through on a weekend, meaning that no children were in the school when it was destroyed. That, however, does not mean no life would be lost. Six people died in the storm and many others were hurt. 

Due to the severity of the storm, the Federal Emgergency Management Agency, in conjunction with local and state emergency management agencies worked together to provide shelter and aid to the citizens who were impacted.

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Mar, 1990

Flloding Prediction Systems

The Jones County Civil Defense in 1990 was in the process of installing rainfall and river data collections systems to better predict and protect against the catastrophic results of flooding of which had been seen numorous times in the previous thirty years around the county and in Laurel.

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Sep, 2001

Emergency Operations Center    

On September 28, 2001, Civil Defense moved into its newly built facility located at 22 Mason Street in Laurel. The facility was built to house multiple offices, as well as the central dispatch office for 911. 

By this time, Carl Carlos had retired as Civil Defense Director and passed the title onto his second-in-command, Don McKennon. 

The new facility was dedicated to Carl and his wife, Paula, and their names are inscribed on the front of the building.

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Aug, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

On August 23rd, 2005, one of the worst disasters to hit our area left thoursands without power, food, water, homeless, and several injured or dead.

Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast as a Category 5 hurricane. The devastation left in her wake was unfathonable. Having gone weeks without power, and standing in long lines for water and food, communities across the state relied heavily upon the support of Emergency Management officials, both local and federal.

The Jones County Emergency Operations Center played a huge role in assisting the persons of our community in picking up the pieces and putting lives back together. Although the struggle faced by so many still rings out in the heart of our community today, the lessons learned by our emergency officials will help to better protect and prepare for future disasters.

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Director Marda Tullos

In 2012, a new director of the EOC was selected, Marda Tullos. Don McKennon retired from his position as director after serving 11 years. Marda Tullos served as Don McKennon's Deputy Director for that time.

Upon Director Tullos taking her position, Rodney Parker was selected as her Deputy Director. Deputy Director Parker had started at the EOC as a dispatcher and moved from there to a shop technician under Richard Elzey.

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Director Paul Sheffield

In October of 2018, Paul Sheffield was selected to be the new director of the EOC. Marda Tullos elected to retire, thus opening the seat for a new director.

Director Sheffield has served many years in emergency management, working with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and Forrest County Emergency Management.

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Where things are now

Forty-eight years after its inception, the Jones County Emergency Management Agency and 911 Dispatch Center currently serves the many thousands of citizens across Jones County, the cities of Laurel and Ellisville, and every community, as well as neighboring counties and states when they call for our assistance.

Our facility, located at 22 Mason Street in Laurel Mississippi, currently house five office staff, the Jones County Fire Coordinator's office, and the E911 Dispatch Center, consisting of 16 full-time, part-time and in-training dispatchers.

Executive Director Paul Sheffield
Deputy Director Rodney Parker
Office Aministrator Tammy Wells
E911 Manager Ramona Dungan
Operations Officer Caleb Worrell

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Do you have your own stories, history or newspaper clippings about the development of emergency services in Jones County? Submit Them Here!