Picayune is up in spite of Gustav

Published 1:43 pm Wednesday, September 3, 2008

One day after Hurricane Gustav grazed the area, City of Picayune services are almost at full operation.

City officials report that a number of gas stations have begun to reopen, school will reopen on Wednesday and the finer details concerning debris cleanup are under discussion.

Electric companies report that most of their customers have had power restored. Coast Electric reports that about 1,500 Pearl River County residents were without power Monday morning. Mississippi Power reported to the city that all residents had their power restored in the city by Monday morning.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The only shelter in Picayune is still housing about 150 people who are unable to get home. That shelter is at Manna Ministries, 120 Street A, in the city’s Industrial Park off of Martin Luther King Boulevard.

As far as debris removal is concerned, the city does have a contractor on hold but will wait to get an assessment to turn in to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to apply for cleanup grant funding. Until that time, debris will not be collected. Interim City Manger Harvey Miller asks residents to begin putting their debris at the edge of their property. A press release from the city asks residents not to put the material at the road side or in the street.

City officials expect to be able to pick up debris only once this time, so if the debris is set at the edge of the property now, then the debris will be collected, Miller said. Fire Chief Keith Brown asks residents to be patient as the city works to find the best option for debris pick up.

Sandbags will still be available for residents concerned with flooding from the overflowing watersheds. Public Works Director Chad Frierson said that about 1,500 bags are expected to be on hand.

City offices have reopened and will return to their normal operating hours, the release states.

For the most part, city officials report they were well prepared for the needs of city residents.

“We were very well prepared. We learned a lot from Katrina,” Miller said.

The return of refugees who fled during the contraflow is expected to have a large impact on city services. Mayor Greg Mitchell said he expects the fuel supply to be hit hard by those attempting to return home. At press time, residents of Jackson Parish are not allowed back to their homes. Traffic is reported to be closed on the thoroughfares into that area, which will likely send people into Picayune for shelter.

Outside law enforcement agencies are in Picayune assisting the Picayune Police Department. They have indicated they will be able to stay an additional day to help handle the extra people who may need to stay in the area as they await permission or means to return to their homes.

Brown does not expect a reverse contraflow since he was informed by MDOT that 72 hours notice must be given prior to implementation.