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Dacula couple helping out with hurricane recovery efforts

Dianne and Jimmy Waldrip

Dianne and Jimmy Waldrip

For the last 12 years, this has simply been what the Waldrips do -- at the drop of a hat, the retired Dacula couple is in another part of the country lending a hand.

It was no different Wednesday afternoon when Dianne and Jimmy Waldrip got a call from the Red Cross. By Thursday, they were in Mississippi.

"We know what the situation is," Dianne Waldrip said by phone Friday, "and we keep our things together ready to go."

Volunteers with the Red Cross for more than a decade, the Waldrips' latest escapade has taken them to the Hattiesburg, Miss. -- about an hour from the Gulf Coast -- to help in the wake of Hurricane Isaac. Less than 48 hours after being notified they'd be needed, the duo was there Friday to await specific assignments.

Dianne (retired from the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners' financial services division) and Jimmy (retired from General Motors) were part of a 10-truck convoy from Atlanta. The original plan was to take the trucks -- chock full of clean-up supplies like rakes, shovels, tarps, generators and coolers -- to Port Allen, La., but they were diverted.

"You don't really know, you just do whatever they want you to do," Dianne Waldrip said.

Hurricane Isaac dumped as much as 16 inches of rain in areas across Louisiana and Mississippi, causing widespread flooding and power outages. In Louisiana alone, the storm cut power to more than 900,000 homes and businesses.

More than 15,000 utility workers began restoring power to customers in Louisiana and Mississippi on Friday, but officials said it would be a few days before power was fully restored.

Saturday's likely plan for the Waldrips and the rest of their crew is to disperse to different towns around Hattiesburg that need help.

"(Saturday) we're probably going to go out, and they've got about five or six towns they're going to send us to," Jimmy Waldrip said.

The Waldrips' primary responsibilities will be helping recovery efforts and distributing supplies, something they're very familiar with.

In a dozen years of volunteering with the Red Cross, the couple has been all over the South and Southeast during disasters and times of need. Jimmy Waldrip has assisted in New York following 9/11 and in the West during wildfires. They helped serve Hurricane Katrina refugees in the Atlanta area as well.

It's a heck of a commitment -- you have to be willing to leave within 24 hours, and willing to stay for two weeks -- but one the Waldrips have taken to well.

"We just didn't want to stay home all the time," Dianne Waldrip said.