County, city officials ready up for potential hurricane

Published 7:00 am Thursday, July 11, 2019

Pearl River County emergency officials are preparing for the potential effect tropical cyclone two could have, which as of Wednesday afternoon was forming in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Those preparations include opening sandbag locations at the Nicholson Volunteer Fire Department located on Highway 11, Pine Grove Volunteer Fire Station 2 located on Liberty Road and the Poplarville Fairgrounds located on Highway 26 near the EOC building in Poplarville. All sandbag locations are expected to open on Thursday, said Danny Manley, Pearl River County Emergency Management Director.

Storm shelters in Picayune and Poplarville are on standby and swift water rescue personnel throughout the state are also on standby in case major flooding occurs, said Manley.

Predictions as of Wednesday afternoon indicate the worst of the storm will miss Pearl River County, but the area may still experience strong thunderstorms, Manley said. The forecast is subject to change as the week progresses, Manley said, and people should monitor their local forecast and remain weather aware.

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Officials with the city of Picayune and the city of Poplarville are keeping an eye on weather predictions to determine what impact residents should expect from the storm, such as how much rain each city might receive and if the area will need to prepare for high winds, said Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown.

“Right now we’re just kind of watching the system and working closely with the county EOC to watch how the storm is developing and to see where the (storm’s) potential landfall is,” said Poplarville Fire Chief Jonathan Head.

Representatives with both cities work closely with the county emergency operations center for emergency planning and sheltering, said Head. The city of Poplarville is making normal storm preparations by taking the canvas covers on playground equipment down to avoid damage from high winds, said Poplarville Mayor Rossie Creel. Public works employees are cleaning curb and gutters to ensure water drainage is effective.

“We learned a lesson in Hurricane Katrina, you can’t take these storms lightly no matter how minor they might seem,” Creel said.

Mississippi Power is also monitoring the system and is prepared to respond to customer needs, said Mississippi Power spokesman Jeff Shepard. Mississippi Power can move resources from the Hattiesburg to Pearl River County if needed, but exactly where resources are allocated will depend on the impact the storm has in southern Mississippi, Shepard said. Coast Electric employees are also on standby in case a weather event comes to the area, said Director of Communications April Lollar. Coast Electric has an app customers can install to report outages, which can prevent the power company’s phone system from becoming overwhelmed, said Lollar.