Monday, August 27, 2012
Get links to updated tropical storm/hurricane info here.
On the eve of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the Gulf Coast, Mississippi is preparing for a storm that could become a hurricane by Tuesday.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency are expecting Tropical Storm Isaac to become a Category 1 or 2 hurricane by the time it hits land late Tuesday. The projected course of the storm puts its center on the coast of Louisiana, which means the Mississippi coast could take a beating as well.
Southwest and central Mississippi may see between 10 and 16 inches of rain. Tropical storm-force winds, 40 to 50 miles per hour, could persist for days, MEMA spokesman Greg Flynn told the Jackson Free Press.
Gov. Phil Bryant and MEMA Executive Director Robert Latham flew to the coast today to assess the needs of the state's three coastal counties: Hancock, Harrison and Jackson. Latham and Bryant are talking with county leaders about possible evacuation plans.
MEMA has activated the State Emergency Operations Center, which means that every disaster response agency in the state is working 24 hours a day on Tropical Storm Isaac, Flynn said.
Leaders in Hancock County requested 10,000 sandbags to secure lower regions from flooding, and Flynn said MEMA is delivering the bags now. Extra law-enforcement officers are headed to Pearl River and Hancock counties to help with the traffic of people headed inland from the coast.
"On the government side of things, we just really want the public to take it seriously and to make their preparations, whether it's the need for them to leave their homes, or if it's making sure you have bottled water and canned food and a generator," Flynn said. "Certainly, we know that a large portion of the state is going to feel the effects of the storm, no matter what strength it is. We're going to see (tornadoes, possibly), thunderstorms and a lot, a lot of rain."
The Forward Emergency Response Team, which includes members of MEMA, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the state Department of Health, is at the National Guard base in Gulfport. From there, the team members can quickly respond to emergencies on the Gulf Coast.
The storm could persist in the Gulf Coast States from Tuesday evening until sometime Friday. The Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg is working with FEMA to get gas generators to public facilities, such as fire and police stations and hospitals, in case they lose power.
Jonathan Pennington, emergency manager for the Vicksburg Corps of Engineers, said the Corps will send an emergency response team to such facilities, along with a contractor, to assess the buildings' electrical needs and assure they get the power they need.
Mississippi should be able to handle a category 1 or 2 hurricane, Pennington said. The current drought, which has left the Mississippi River at its lowest level in years, should help assure that levees will hold along the river.