County keeps watchful eye on Fay

Published 11:16 pm Saturday, August 23, 2008

Preliminary weather predictions show that Tropical Storm Fay may head just to the north of Mississippi Gulf Coast counties, taking the county out of a tropical storm warning. But the storm could possibly bring heavy rains and some wind gusts to Pearl River County.

Eemergency county and city personnel are preparing for the possibility of some isolated flooding in flood prone areas, power outages, winds and possible tornados.

As of Saturday afternoon the tropical storm warning was lifted from the Pearl River County area, said Emergency Management Director Danny Manley.

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If things get worse all four school districts in the area, Picayune, Poplarville, Hancock and Pearl River County, will work together to decide if school will be open on Monday. An announcement concerning school closures on Monday should be made on on Sunday.

Generators are fueled and city employees and county volunteer fire departments are preparing to distribute sand bags. City workers have prepared sand bags for residents that may need them. They will be available to city residents Sunday morning beginning at 8 at Picayune City Hall at 815 N Beech St.. There is a 15 bag limit per household, said Public Works Director Chad Frierson. Manley said the four southern fire districts are also working to fill the county resident need for sandbags.

A conference call between the National Weather Service in Slidell, La., county and City of Picayune officials Saturday afternoon described the possibility of Fay dropping anywhere between six to ten inches of rain and bringing about 20 to 40 mile per hour winds in the area Sunday or Monday, said Frank Revitte with the National Weather Service.

If conditions worsen Mississippi Emergency Management Agency officials expressed concern for temporary housing, such as remaining travel trailers, cottages and mobile homes, placed in flood prone areas. Residents currently residing in that type of housing should consider making accommodations with family or friends who live on higher ground if the outlook worsens.

The primary cause of concern will be rain. With the soil already fairly wet saturation is expected with rain runoff and flash floods to follow. “There is a risk of very heavy rainfall, there’s no doubt about it,” Revitte said.

About six inches of rain is expected in the area. If the storm stalls out and sits on the county, which is a possible scenario, rainfall could reach ten inches in a matter of hours.

If Fay stays on her current course, Pearl River County is expected to experience effects either Sunday afternoon or Monday morning, but her current course would cause only minimal effects. Rainfall could begin as early as Saturday evening.

Revitte said the severity of the storm in the county would depend on whether the storm enters the Gulf of Mexico again or if it stays on land. If the storm moves into the gulf, then the severity of the winds and rain would most likely increase, he said.

Another meeting will be held Sunday morning to present an update on the status on the storm. At that time the decision to close schools on Monday or not will be made.

In October of last year, a substantial rain in the city caused more than 100 homes to flood, Frierson said. Brown said if the area receives five inches or more of rain in a two-hour span, flooding would probably occur.