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Task force continues to prepare county for next storm

Pearl River County continues to prepare for the next destructive storm to aviod problems the county endured last year.

The absence of fuel vendors during the Pearl River County Task Force meeting Thursday night held back negotiations of details for emergency fuel distribution. Emergency Management Director Bobby Strahan said that electric generators could be provided by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency for as long as the county needs them, but would be on loan. Those generators would primarily be used to power shelters and crucial government buildings in the county, such as volunteer fire departments, city halls in Picayune and Poplarville, Strahan said. A few generators may be used to power fuel stations, but the stations would not have priority for those generators. Generators for the fuel stations will be mounted on trailers for mobility to other sites, the rest will be stationary, Strahan said.

An alternate route to power emergency fuel distribution is to use a stand alone portable pumps capable of pumping fuel from above or below ground tanks. The small pumps keeps track of the gallons pumped, have been tested to run for 24 hours continuously and run off a 12 volt battery, Strahan said. This cost efficient way of pumping fuel from the vendor’s tanks will be proposed to local fuel vendors.

The Task Force wants to draw up an agreement on terms of assistance to ensure emergency distribution times and prices are consistent at those fuel stations. Julia Anderson of the Planning and Development office will work on drawing up the agreement.

Shelter capacity in the county is in better condition now, there are now enough shelters to house about 3,700 people, he said.

“So we’re in a little better shape than what we started out right now,” Strahan said.

In meetings in months past Strahan said there was only enough shelter space for about 700 people.

Strahan will soon have a secure temporary location to work out of next to Wheat’s Supply in Poplarville, which will also offers storage space for the MRE’s and water he has stockpiled. The stock should be enough to feed 6,000 people he said. This new location will provide a more secure location for Strahan to operate out of since he is currently working out of a double wide trailer donated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Soon the county will be able to utilize a county wide communication system to alert residents of emergencies. Once the Reverse 911 calling system is in place and ready to go, they will be able to contact certain people according to the situation, Strahan said. For instance if a train derails containing hazardous materials then residents in the area can be warned to evacuate the area, he said. Or if a county wide emergency occurs the system is capable of calling up to 999 phone lines at one time, and if residents fear they may not be home during an emergency they can offer their cell phone number to the system, Strahan said. Everything should be in place to get the operation functional by early August, Strahan said.

Road work in the county is crucial, especially to U.S. 11. With help from Dungan Engineering the county presented senator Thad Cochran with a cost proposal of the work needed on the major road by sections in the county, District II Supervisor Danny Wise said. WIse said Senator Cochran was very receptive to the county’s needs and attentive to the situation at hand.

Dr. William Lewis said there is also program called the Vision 20/20 program that the county should look in to help fund some of the road work.

The Task Force will meet again 4 p.m. August 17 at the Millard jail.