City prepares for Monday landfall of Gustav

Published 10:16 pm Sunday, August 31, 2008

Picayune city officials held a meeting Sunday afternoon to discuss efforts in effect and soon to be in effect to prepare the city for the impending arrival of Hurricane Gustav.

Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown said if the storm continues on its current track Pearl River County can expect to get feeder bands.

Manna Ministries is expected to open as a shelter at 2 p.m. Sunday. Resurrection Life Pastor Allan Hickman said the shelter is capable of housing about 300 people. Food water and the capability of showers are expected to be available at the shelter to those who need it. District V Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith said he is concerned about the lack of local churches opening their doors as shelters. He asks any churches capable of opening their doors to be shelters to do so.

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The McNeill Baptist Association will be available for a special needs shelter, but only has about 75 available beds. Pearl River Community College had previously been announced to have special needs shelter on site at the nursing building. Smith said the college would only open that shelter if the storm is expected to a category three or less. The structural stability of the building is not expected to be stable enough. Smith said.

Fuel at gas stations is a rare commodity. Picayune Police Deputy Chief David Ervin said officers have already been dispatched to a local gas station over the weekend to respond to an incident over fuel.

A short debate ensued over whether to close exits or not since there are little to no services available in the city. But in the end Brown said since the interstate is a state roadway the city could not legally close the exits.

Home Depot is expected to close down at 6 p.m. Sunday and not open again until Tuesday after dawn. A Picayune Home Depot representative said projected supplies that may be needed after the storm have already been ordered. They are expected to arrive shortly after the storm passes.

A Highland Community Hospital representative said the hospital’s emergency room is open, but that it is extremely busy. It is not recommended to make a trip to the hospital unless someone is seriously ill or injured.

Coastal Waste Services they are not expected to pick up trash on Monday and possibly Tuesday. Public Works Director Chad Frierson said he has not been able to contact the organization but since they are based in St. Tammany Parish he expects them to be closed the next couple of days. He asks residents not to put any debris, trash or trash cans by the road. This will help keep the streets clear of debris and storm drains unclogged.

A curfew is not in effect, said Police Chief Jim Luke and Pearl River County Sheriff David Allison. The need for a curfew will be considered after the storm has passed.