Saturday, August 30, 2008

Governor Barbour announces mandatory evacuations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Aug. 29, 2008 PEARL - Governor Haley Barbour issued mandatory evacuations for Harrison and Hancock counties beginning Sunday morning for people living the following: • FEMA travel trailers • FEMA mobile homes • Mississippi Cottages • Residents in designated flood hazard zones. "There is no question we are taking this storm seriously, but there is no need to panic," Governor Barbour said at a news conference at the National Guard Armory Readiness Center in Gulfport. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, David Paulison, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and MEMA Director Mike Womack also attended the news conference. "As we prepare for the worst, we must pray for the best," Governor Barbour said. The Mississippi Army National Guard will launch a door-to-door campaign on Saturday to notify people living in low-lying areas, flood hazard zones, FEMA travel trailers and mobile homes and Mississippi Cottages to seek alternative shelter because of the threat of severe tropical weather. The State Emergency Response Team, which is comprised from MEMA and several other key state agencies, will also deploy to Gulfport this afternoon. Once there, the SERT will establish an Emergency Operations Center so they may monitor and assess resources and needs for local governments as Gustav approaches. Due to the large number of people expected to evacuate from Louisiana, Governor Barbour said Mississippi and Louisiana officials are planning to use the contraflow plan for both Interstates 55 and 59 this weekend. An exact starting time for the reverse laning of the interstates has not yet been determined. More than 7,000 Mississippi families still live in state and federal disaster housing. These units are temporary units which is why they are not elevated to heights to protect residents from floods and many are in flood prone areas, said MEMA Director Mike Womack. "MEMA's primary concern is for the safety of all Mississippi residents," Womack said. "But with so many people living in low-lying areas, these residents need to understand that this housing may be susceptible to flooding in a situation like this." According to the National Weather Service since 1970 there have more than 600 deaths attributed to flooding from tropical weather. More than 60 percent of those deaths occurred from inland flooding. Gustav is forecasted to become a strong hurricane as it enters the Gulf of Mexico in the next day or two. The National Hurricane Center expects Gustav to make landfall on the Gulf Coast as early as Monday or Tuesday. For more information and updates visit or call MEMA's Public Information Line at 866-519-MEMA

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