First-hand look on the daily routine of Oktibbeha County EMA Director


OKTIBBEHA, Miss. (WCBI)  — The Oktibbeha County Lake dam has been one of the biggest concerns in the area right now.

Leading the effort to keep everyone safe is Oktibbeha County EMA Director Kristen Campanella.

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19-years-ago, Campanella was the one answering 911 calls.

Now, she’s training a team of dispatchers, anticipating a disaster and always preparing the county for a worst-case scenario.

Through it all, she believes it’s important to remain calm and keep people informed.

Kristen Campanella took over as director of the Oktibbeha County emergency management department three years ago.

Since then, Campanella says no day has been the same.

And each day, she learns something new.

“I mean we kind of go through the same steps I guess you can say. But it’s not the same job every day. There’s something that comes up new every day. We learn something every day. I always said if we stop learning. Then I’m ineffective to my job.”

And as a leader of a very important department, Campanella has to also make sure her team is as sharp as her.

Part of her job is to make sure the 911 dispatch team has all the tools needed to handle any issue at any time.

After making sure everything is handled in the office. It’s now time to focus on the biggest issue as of late.

The rising waters at the Oktibbeha County Lake Dam.

Campanella drives 10 minutes from her office to the dam to access the latest developments.

Campanella knows the dam can give way at any time, it’s a daily concern of hers.

“Something like this you don’t know if it’s going to happen five minutes from now, five weeks, five months, five years. So it’s just on edge the entire time. Not knowing what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen. So a lot of sleep lost.”

And with this week’s heavy rain, the latest update?

“We was lucky to get the water down eight and half feet. I think everybody kind of took a breather for a couple weeks. But it looks like here we go again.”

But despite the setback, Campanella has to remain calm as the leader, but she’s determined to help resolve the issue.

“It’s part of the job. I mean that’s what we signed up for.”