Prepare for emergencies, EOC director urges

Published 3:36 pm Friday, June 6, 2008

County residents should be prepared should the impending storm season send hurricanes to the area.

Securing enough water, food and fuel and the safety of family members should be residents’ paramount concerns. Emergency workers and other residents who will not have the option of leaving the county in an emergency should ensure their families are safe. Pearl River County Emergency Management Operations Director Danny Manley said that people work better when they don’t have a lot of worries on their minds.

EOC Deputy Director Carolyn Nelson said it is a good idea to have out-of-state contact numbers so family can keep in touch.

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“A communications plan is really important,” Nelson said.

Having plenty of supplies on hand will ensure that residents do not have to rely on the federal government to get them through an emergency. Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown said there has been consideration of closing off ramps from Interstate 59 into Picayune in the event contraflow is initiated. More than likely, though, that won’t happen since local residents are expected to purchase most of the local supplies before they evacuate.

Having adequate food and water on hand, enough for five to seven days, will ensure that residents are prepared, Nelson said. A gallon of water a day is required for each person. Any medical or baby supplies also should be secured before an expected emergency.

Many people keep up with the weather on a regular basis. It is well known how unpredictable the weather really is. To keep up with the latest predictions Manley suggests checking with websites such as Residents should still be prepared for the unexpected.

“You never know what can happen,” Manley said.

Some people may see a “cone of probability” for a storm during weather forecasts. That cone shows the all of the potential paths of a storm, he said. The line in the center does not represent that path.

“The line down the center is just that, a line down the center,” Manley said.

That means the storm could travel along any path inside that cone, not just along the line in the center.

If residents decide to evacuate, they should do so long before gale force winds reach the area. By the time 35 to 50 mile per hour winds reach the area, it is too late to evacuate.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently announced it will not provide ice to residents in the event of another storm. Manley said residents can prepare ice by freezing two liter bottles of water. Other organizations may bring in ice or may have ice for sale, but there is no certainty in that, he said.

“Just don’t depend on the federal government to come down and give you ice,” Manley said.

Emergency officials will have access to a shelter capable of handling 200 mile per hour winds. Residents will have access to a number of shelters should they decide to stay, both inside and outside the cities of Picayune and Poplarville.