Busy storm season calls for preparation

Published 11:08 pm Saturday, September 6, 2008

With another storm possibly on its way to the Gulf of Mexico, preparation is key to having supplies or avoiding the inconvenience of contraflow if evacuating.

Pearl River County Emergency Operations Director Danny Manley is asking county residents and business owners to not only prepare for the possibility of another storm affecting the area, but to prepare for the effects of contraflow.

This county is a gateway into Mississippi for the neighboring state of Louisiana, and a evacuation route for Mississippi Gulf Coast residents. That fact obligates county businesses and services to offer help to keep contraflow evacuees moving. Not only should businesses be prepared for the needs of people heading to safety through this county, preparations should be made to help those same people when they return to their homes.

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Manley said he will request additional help and work to provide bathroom facilities for contraflow evacuees. Businesses can help with the increased demands of fuel and resources by using some of the increased profits they accumulated during the last contraflow. He estimates many business owners have collected about six months worth of profits in a week’s time. Those extra profits can be used to prepare for the next wave of contraflow associated with another storm making land fall.

Such preparations could include purchasing increased supplies of fuel, food and water. Generators also would be a wise investment if the county is without power for an extended period of time. If businesses have generators and are able to operate, it will help the county recover faster. Retailers should take into consideration where their fuel comes from and what will happen if the storm affects those areas, Manley said.

Preparing for a storm also involves considering the possibility of evacuation. When considering whether to evacuate or not, residents should assess the strength of their home with high winds and if there are trees that could endanger the home. In instances of power outages, expect food and fuel to be temporarily unavailable so residents should be able to care for themselves.

“These are things that are just out of our control on the county level,” Manley said.

Mobile homes are not safe to ride out major storms. Hurricane Katrina was a prime example of that, Manley said. People who live in mobile homes, or have economic problems evacuating, should contact family members who live in strong structures.

Even though Pearl River County is not affected by storm surge as coastal counties are, there is the possibility of fresh water flooding and flash flooding, especially in low lying areas. Manley said that fresh water flooding is typically the leading cause of death in a storm. Wind, rain and tornadoes also are a major concern.

If evacuation is the only option, residents should consider the effects of contraflow. Alternate routes should be considered. There will be needs of those travelingfor snacks, restroom breaks and other supplies. If a shelter is a consideration, it should be known that shelters are commonly not the most comfortable options and are just as susceptible to storm damage. Shelter availability will be based on available staff and if they are able to open. Information on shelters will be available by calling the EOC at 601-795-3058, Manley said.