Hattiesburg City Clerk Kermas Eaton signs and Emergency Declaration as Mayor Toby Barker looks on.

Pine Belt urged to prepare for Tropical Storm Nate

By STAFF REPORTS,

Gov. Phil Bryant warned state residents to be prepared for Tropical Storm Nate, which is expected to make landfall on the Gulf Coast early Sunday.

“We are on the Coast this morning, meeting with emergency management officials and preparing for tropical storm Nate,” he said. “We are ready for a category 1 hurricane. Everyone in South Mississippi should have a plan for this storm. We cannot ignore its destructive potential.”

At special called meetings today, the Hattiesburg City Council and Lamar County and Forrest County boards of supervisors are working to declare a state of emergency in anticipation of Tropical Storm Nate, which is expected to make landfall as a hurricane this weekend.

These efforts fall in line with what state officials will do today as precaution for what develops out of Tropical Storm Nate. The declaration allows for the entities to move forward with resources throughout the storm and after any reports of damages.

Until Nate makes landfall as a hurricane and causes specific damage, the most up-to-date state information is available from the Mississippi Emergency Management Association, which has recently updated its app for smartphones. Titled “Mississippi EMA,” the app provides current weather information, a seven-day forecast, weather map, emergency kit checklist, tweets and Facebook posts from MEMA, hurricane preparedness tips and a log of alerts that have been issued as Nate approaches the Gulf Coast.

The MEMA hurricane preparedness checklist includes:

·      Water.

·      Food.

·      Flashlight.

·      Radio.

·      Extra batteries.

·      First aid kit.

·      Medications.

·      Medical supplies.

·      Multi-purpose tool.

·      Personal hygiene items.

·      Personal documents.

·      Cell phone with chargers.

·      Emergency contact.

·      Extra cash.

·      Blankets/sleeping bags.

·      Maps of area.

·      Baby supplies.

·      Pet supplies.

·      Two-way radios.

·      Extra set of keys.

·      Can opener.

·      Whistle.

·      Matches.

·      Extra clothing.

·      Duct tape.

According to a Dixie Electric Power Association statement, the company activated its emergency response plan on Thursday, stocking materials, loading trucks, coordinating food and preparing to answer member calls and questions.

“We encourage our members to prepare their families as well,” General Manager Randy Smith said. Dixie Electric’s website prepared.dixieepa.com provides tips and information for preparing for a hurricane.

Dixie Electric is associated with a network of electric cooperatives from across the state and nation that will send line crews in the event of a major power outage. Also, the Association has contracts with power line companies that can send additional line crews.

Dixie Electric will also post outage updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Association serves 39,000 accounts in a seven-county area in south Mississippi, including Jones, Wayne, Perry, Forrest, Covington, Clarke and Jasper counties.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation publishes the 2017 Hurricane Evacuation Guide, disaster kit checklist and instructional videos on how to prepare. The information is free at GoMDOT.com/hurricanes. The guide features information to assist in developing a preparedness plan such as evacuation routes, contraflow information, radio coverage areas through Mississippi Public Broadcasting and important contact information from Mississippi Highway Patrol, MEMA, American Red Cross and bordering state DOTs and highway patrols.

State Farm, Mississippi’s largest home and auto insurer, is preparing for the possible impact of Tropical Storm Nate. The company is monitoring the system and planning to assist customers with any reported damage. As State Farm takes its own steps to prepare, the company says there are several things homeowners can do to bring some peace of mind in the event of a direct hit on your community.

Steps to Take

·      Secure lawn furniture and other items that could be tossed around by winds and cause damage to their property.

·      Inside the home, residents should locate important documents such as insurance papers.

·      Take pictures or a smart phone video of each room and consider taking a home inventory.

·      Have an evacuation plan and let friends and relative know about them.

“Having this type of planning in place can certainly help reduce damage caused by high winds and can certainly speed up the claim process in the event of insured losses,” State Farm spokesman Roszell Gadson said.

State Farm encourages drivers to move their vehicles to higher ground. State Farm customers who suffer damage can report claims by calling 1(800) SFCLAIM (1-800-732-5246), online at www.statefarm.com, or by contacting your agent.

In anticipation of heavy rainfall and storm surge associated with Tropical Storm Nate, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that a discharge of wastewater will begin today at the Mississippi Phosphates Corporation Site in Pascagoula.

This intentional discharge of wastewater, known as a bypass, is being conducted because rain and associated storm surge from the advancing storm is forecasted to exceed storage capacity of the on-site phosphogypsum stacks and wastewater treatment system. Before Tropical Storm Nate makes landfall as a hurricane, EPA is also implementing the Hurricane Response Plan for the Site and will be installing the hurricane storm surge gates.