Minimal damage reported from Gustav

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hurricane Gustav caused only minor damage to Pearl River County with its high winds and rain.

Damage reported in the county was nothing on the scale of what Hurricane Katrina caused three years ago, but emergency personnel did deal with downed trees blocking roads and causing power outages.

The only crime reported so far deals with an adult male and a juvenile male burglarizing two empty homes in Nicholson during the storm. Sheriff David Allison said the incident occurred sometime Monday as the storm was passing. The juvenile, who had a hold on him for running away, was sent to Forrest County Detention Center. The adult is being held at the county jail. Information about the suspects’ identities will be released after they have been processed and charged, Chief Investigator Maj. Shane Tucker said.

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Neither Picayune nor Poplarville Police Departments reported major crimes during the storm. Poplarville Police Chief Charlie Fazende said his officers only conducted some DUI arrests. Picayune Police Public Information Officer Theresa Milar said there no reports of major crimes Monday afternoon.

Damage to the county was light, mostly consisting of downed trees. Emergency Management Director Danny Manley said there were no reports of destroyed homes, but there were some reports of damage to some mobile homes.

“It looks like we dodged the bullet,” Allison said.

Most of the power outages seem to have occurred in the county. Picayune and Poplarville have been able to maintain electricity through most of the day. Outages were reported in isolated areas in Picayune and Poplarville. Coast Electric Communications Specialist April Lollar said there are an estimated 9,500 customers without power. She said crews were out Monday afternoon working on the lines. They were expected to work on the lines as long as they could and start again at daybreak Tuesday.

Crews from neighboring states, including Alabama, are expected to arrive Tuesday to help restore power, Lollar said. The time it will take to restore power will depend on the extent of damage.

Recovery is expected to be faster than what the county dealt with after Katrina. Manley said there is currently gas at some stations in Poplarville. Picayune stations are expected to have fuel Tuesday or Wednesday. Other services are expected to reopen Tuesday or Wednesday, Manley said.

Most of the roads are, or have been, cleared, but a tour of the county Monday afternoon showed a number of branches and limbs in the roadway. Reports of downed trees consistently flowed over the airwaves as feeder bands passed over the county. Mississippi Department of Transportation press releases report that Interstate 59 and Mississippi 43 North, were closed due to downed trees. Flooding caused U.S. 90 and Miss. 43 and 603 south to be closed, a release stated.

Shelters are holding about 380 people in Picayune and Poplarville. According to a release from the EOC office, most of the people in the shelters are from Louisiana, with the remainder from Pearl River, Harrison, Stone and Hancock counties. Fazende estimated about 300 people in the shelter in Poplarville. The release states there is room at the Picayune shelter located at Manna Ministries on Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The only curfew to be put in effect will be in the City of Picayune from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. Milar said.

Picayune, Poplarville and Pearl River County School Districts report school will not be open Tuesday.