All of Pearl River County prepared for Nate

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 7, 2017

Officials in both municipalities have officially declared a state of emergency in preparation for the landfall of what is expected to be a category one hurricane.

Picayune Fire Department Assistant Chief Barry Lee said the storm is still expected to be a category one when it makes landfall Saturday evening or night. The effects of the storm should begin to be seen in Pearl River County that afternoon.

Predictions released Friday afternoon state the storm will bring sustained tropical force winds between 30 to 40 miles per hour, with gusts up to 60 and 80 miles per hour. Lee said the rain estimates for this area have been reduced to two to four inches.

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Friday afternoon the City Council held an emergency meeting to sign the declaration. Pearl River County Emergency Management Public Relations Officer Tony Bounds said Poplarville Board of Aldermen also signed their declaration Friday, but the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors will most likely sign its declaration Saturday morning.

Sandbags were available Friday at the Picayune city barn and at four satellite locations. Public Works Director Eric Morris said only 100 people came to pick up sandbags Friday, but he expects more response Saturday.

The city barn will be open Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon to distribute sandbags, Morris said. Satellite locations can be found at the church on Kendrick Lane, the parking lot at the corner of North Haugh Avenue and Fourth Street, Pinewood Drive and Mildred Mitchell Park on Sycamore Road.

According to a press release from the PRCEOC, sandbags will be available beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Pine Grove Volunteer Fire Station 2 located on Liberty Road, Nicholson Fire Station 1 located on Highway 11, and the Emergency Operations Center at the intersection of Highway 26 and Highway 11 in Poplarville.

One piece of good news Lee shared involved a change in the storm’s direction. He said that the National Weather Service determined that the storm has taken a more eastern track, meaning Pearl River County will most likely only be affected by the storm’s western edge, which is typically the weakest side.

However, downed trees and power outages are still expected.

Both local power companies have called in extra personnel to help address any outages, said Mississippi Power representative Byron Hill and Coast Electric Power District Operations Superintendent Wendell Lumpkin.

Linemen and emergency personnel from the fire and police departments will continue to patrol the streets and work until the conditions become too severe. They will return to patrols and assessing damage once conditions become favorable.

Due to the storm making landfall as a category one, emergency shelters are not currently planned to open. Lee and Bounds said that if the storm strengthens, shelters would be opened, but only long enough for people to ride out the storm.

Bounds advises residents living in structures unable to withstand a category one hurricane to consider evacuating now, or contact the Emergency Operations Center at 601-795-3058.

City Manager Jim Luke said that at press time a curfew will not be implemented, but he did urge residents to stay off the streets during the storm. He recalled a previous storm where a tree fell on a truck on Goodyear Boulevard, killing the driver.

Lee also advised residents to use candles and generators with care. Both of those items can cause fires if they are not used properly. Lee also reminded residents to avoid hooking their generator to the power pole of their home. Improperly connected generators can injure power company employees while they work to restore power.

Currently the Picayune School District is the only one to announce a school closure for Monday. Pearl River County School District’s website states that a decision to close the schools will be made before noon Sunday.

Bounds said he has not received word from the Poplarville School District about any closures, but expects an announcement to be made by noon Sunday as well.