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The Sun Herald's publishing plans

The Sun Herald will produce an Extra Edition on Wednesday that will be delivered free of charge to hurricane shelters across the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We will leave sufficient copies so that anyone who would wish to receive a copy may drop by the shelter nearest to them to get theirs.

Due to the approach of Hurricane Ivan, normal home delivery will not be possible.

As soon as it is possible, we will resume our regular schedule of publication, but obviously that will be impacted by the storm.

Every day that we are unable to produce and deliver a paper to subscribers we intend to produce papers that will be delivered to storm shelters. We have in place a number of contingency plans to continue publication should our printing facilities be impaired.

-- The Editors

Eye on Ivan

A South Mississippi hurricane journal

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Shutting down 

After being awake for pretty much all but one hour the last 35 hours, it's time for me to shut down near continuous blogging. Thank everyone for participating in this new experience for The Sun Herald. I hope it was beneficial to folks out there.

I'll be updating ocassionally as conditions warrant in the near future. Please continue to visit The Sun Herald for continuing coverage of recovery efforts here and keep those less fortunate to our east in your thoughts. Figure out a way you can help someone out, whether it's there or just in your own community.

So long,
Don Hammack

Popp's Ferry Bridge 

The Popp's Ferry drawbridge is being raised for 10 minutes every hour to allow boats to return to their slips in harbors along the Mississippi Sound. This will continue for several hours, possibly until Friday morning.

Gulf Coast Medical Center to re-open shortly 

Hurricane Ivan left a mark on Gulf Coast Medical Center, but it's being called temporary and the facility will open Thursday night at 7. The 144-bed acute care hospital located on DeBuys Road just down the street from our paper, closed Tuesday as everyone anticipated a potentially large impact from Hurricane Ivan. Patients transferred at that time will start returning Friday.

Pass High in the house 

Linda Eaton Grouell (now of Everett, Wash.) writes:

(i)I graduated from Pass High in the 60s and was married in Trinity Church while we lived there before Camille hit. It’s still a special place for me. We went through Betsy while there and I watched with angst as Ivan headed towards the shores. Your website and constant updates gave me valuable info to help me know what was happening beyond what we got here in the Pacific Northwest from the Weather Channel and CNN. Thanks for your efforts and my thoughts and prayers are with all on the Gulf Coast during the cleanup.

Harrison County neighborhoods, etc. 

I'm trying to catch up on the flurry of e-mails earlier today with questions about specific areas of the Coast. There were only a few in Harrison County. A couple of folks asked about Orange Grove and all reports from there are encouraging. As stated elsewhere, there have been very few flooding issues in the area and Orange Grove should be clear. Roads are generally open everywhere, although there may be the occasional tree or downed power line blocking a road.

Someone else asked about the VA Hospitals on the Coast. Both are going to return to full service Friday.

Another casino question 

An e-mailer inquires:

I live in Southwest Florida and have just cleaned up after Charley. I had planned to stay in Biloxi this weekend and was glad to hear the eye of the storm did not hit you as hard as we all thought, however no news ever tells us how the casinos have made out and we cannot get through on any of the phone lines. I thought maybe you could give us some advice on how Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel got through the storm. Thank you.

The word earlier today was that Treasure Bay, considered the most vulnerable of the Coast casinos, made it through the storm well. The casinos are still trying to figure out when they can reopen, but are expected to open by this weekend barring problems with damages. I advise folks to try to call the casinos directly for this information.

Friendship Oak 

Anne Greer writes:

As an old alum of Gulf Park College, I'm concerned about Friendship Oak. Any news? Thanks!

Sonny, a very friendly security guard on duty at the Long Beach campus of the University of Southern Mississippi, reports that initial inspections indicate the majestic 500-year-old Live Oak tree survived the storm well. It lost the usual small limbs for a storm like this but appears to be OK.

The tree gets its name because if you enter the shadow of the tree with someone, you'll will remain friends for life.

Former local media celebrity checks in 

Scott Sands here — formerly of The Big Show with Scott, Darren, & Virginia on LIVE 95.3 FM, now in Indianapolis. I've been tracking the storm through national news channels and WLOX / Sun-Herald websites. I'm homesick after my bouts with Georges, Elena, Andrew, Hugo, Frederick, etc. But, this time, it looks like the Coast was mostly spared. Please pass along my regards to those affected and stay safe!

Well wishes and casino questions 

Tom Zanfardino has a couple of questions:

First and foremost I would like to wish your community the very best in these trying times. I am a south west Florida resident and know what its like to clean up after a strong hurricane.

Now on a more self searving note. I had planed to go to the Beau Rivage this weekend. I would still like to go do you have any updated information as to when the casinos' may open?

I talked with a public affairs spokesperson for Beau Rivage who said they can't give a definite time, but they expect to reopen for the weekend. She said the Peter Frampton concert on Friday has been cancelled as has the weekend-long Flying High Aces Blackjack Tournament. You can call (888) 595-2534 for updated information.

For others with similar questions for other casinos, I recommend calling its 800-number.

Riding out the storm and schools question 

From Laura Jaudon-Booth:

Well, it was a restless night for us parents, but thank you Jesus, that our kids slept thru the worst of it. They woke up disappointed that it was over -- kids!!! Fortunately, we lost nothing. Our neighbor lost cable, but not having cable for over 15 years, we don't miss it. Drove thru town before noon and saw very little damage -- few trees down, but only one house that had a small tree limb on it's garage, few businesses had blown over signs, but it was mild compared to other storms in Biloxi's past.

Funny part is that my sister from Texas kept calling, panicking enough for all of us. She did enough for several families! But bless her loving heart, she meant well. We kept an eye on the storm and are in a brick house, at 27 feet above mean sea level, that withstood Camille. We felt confident that we were doing the right things by preparing for the storm, keeping the children calm and staying put. The nighmare of getting out of town was not an option, so we just prepared, prepared, prepared.

Honestly, I don't think we were as prepared for a Catagory 4 or 5, but what we did kept us safe in this one. So, I'd like to thank those of you who prayed for those of us who stayed. The sun is shing brighter than ever as I write this, which just reminds me of His mysterious ways even more.

Now on to the clean-up and helping out our neighbors with their clean-up. Looks like that chainsaw won't be getting as much work-out as we thought. Thank you Jesus for looking after us here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. God be with those less fortunate than ourselves.

P.S. When will Biloxi Schools start back? I've got some BORED kids here!!!! LOL

Schools in South Mississippi are resuming class Monday. Employees will report Friday.

How to get to Jackson from Jackson County 

Danny Smith shares a tip that might come in handy for future evacuations:

Have been reading about all the horror stories of the drive to Jackson ... 12 hours one of your reports said. For future reference for those living in Jackson County, especially eastern Jackson County: take 63 to Lucedale, 98 to Beaumont, 15 through Laurel to Bay Springs, 18 to Brandon, 80 to Jackson Airport road, jog over to Lakeland Drive (Highway 25) and drive right into Jackson. We made it in 4 hours from Pascagoula on Wednesday morning. My brother made it in about 4.5 hours on Wednesday afternoon.

George County update 

From Sun Herald freelancer Kay Grafe:

Ask anybody in Lucedale who experienced Frederic in 1979 and they will say, "It was no Frederic ... thank goodness."

George County’s hurricane damage is mild, compared to the extensive damage of 25 years ago. Most citizens are breathing a sign of relief. Yet, the county has its share of power outages, downed trees and debris that will take weeks to repair and cleanup.

Buildings in Lucedale were protected with plywood; therefore, there is minimal damage. A few trees fell onto houses and across roads. Highway 613 was closed earlier in the day. Agricola and Rocky Creek communities had an excessive number of uprooted trees.

Another break 

I've taken another break from blogging while relocating from the Harrison County courthouse to The Sun Herald offices on DeBuys Road on the Biloxi-Gulfport line. I'll continue doing what I've been doing over the past 1,000 hours (well, it seems that long to me) and try to get back to folks who have e-mailed me with specific questions about people, places and things.

Bear with us while I shift gears again.

MEMA director arrives 

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Robert Latham praised South Mississippians for heeding Tuesday's evacuation order and pledged to continue public education efforts to prove it was not done in vain.

"We have to be ready for Mother Nature to do something we don't expect," said Latham, who adamantly stated the state had "no apologies" for its order. He arrived in Gulfport late Thursday morning after riding down in MEMA's new tricked-out mobile operations center.

Latham emphasised that had Hurrican Ivan turned a few degrees to the west instead of the east, "it would have been catastrophic here instead of in Pensacola and the Florida panhandle." He speculated that residents, frightened by the succession of powerful storms that hit Florida over the past month, were especially motivated by powerful-looking Ivan after its westerly jog around Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico.

The mandatory evacuation of all people from south of I-10 caused an estimated 75,000 vehicles to clog the area's four major northbound highways. Harrison County Civil Defense Director Linda Rouse said Wednesday 31,000 of those vehicles were on Interstate 59, with another 25,000 on U.S. 49.

Latham said the plan was always under evaluation. One of the items that was brought to the attention of MEMA and the Mississippi Department of Transportation were traffic lights on U.S. 49. Officials will examine the idea of taking manual control of the lights in future evacuations to help vehicle flow.

Evacuees reported the normal drive of approximately 75 minutes from Gulfport to Hattiesburg took nearly four times that long Tuesday.

That's acceptable to Latham.

"Someone said it took 12 hours to get to Jackson," said Latham. "I said, 'You got to Jackson.'"

Officials said the evacuation was deemed complete a full 11 hours before Ivan made landfall.

The fact that state and local officials called for the implementation of the evacuation play was only half the battle.

"I think a solid plan is good," Latham said. "The plan doesn't work if the execution doesn't."

-- reported by Don Hammack

Hancock County info 

Stella Schramm asks:

Is there any news on Hancock county (especially the beach front communities)? Are roads from Hattiesburg to Waveland and Bay St. Louis open?

Business editor Lisa Monti lives in Bay St. Louis says there is insignificant damage there. She is currently driving to the paper on DeBuys Road between Gulfport and Biloxi. She's passed a couple traffic lights in Long Beach and Gulfport that were out with police directing traffic. Folks are raking their yards or using a lawnmower to clean up. She saw one person getting their American flag back up the flag pole. Lisa also noted a lack of rubbernecking, too.

I'm not sure there are enough people around to rubberneck.

A Coastie in Pa. 

Tommy Clifford e-mails:

This Blog has been invaluable in reducing anxiety for all who read this from afar. I am in Central PA attending med school and have been starved for information concerning friends and relatives. Even though not specifically mentioning my neighborhood (Gulf Park Estates - South of the Bayou any info would be appreciated), I have read enough to be reasonably sure that damage in the area was nearly as severe as feared. As a Camille survivor, I always fear the worst and hope for the best. Looks like we had more of the later than the former.

On a side note, I found it to be somewhat interesting that AccuWeather forecasts for tropical weather are prepared by meteorologists in State College, PA. Go figure.

Keesler AFB update 

Matt Baldwin, of Winston-Salem, N.C., sent in a question about the status of Keesler, then followed up before I could answer or post the original. Here's his report:

A follow up to an email I sent a bit ago -- just talked to my sister @ keesler
AFB, and all is well. my brother in law is part of the recovery team, and he's out surveying damage. lots of limbs down, power is on on the base, but off base some scattered outages. no major damage. thank you again for this site, it's really made me feel better to read the reports that the damage was not anywhere near as bad as to the west in FL. Keep up the great work!

National Guard moving in 

Sun Herald military reporter Patrick Peterson reports:

About 70 National Guardsmen from the 223rd Engineer Battalion in North Mississippi will arrive in Jackson County before noon to help with traffic control. Little flooding or debris in roads was reported in Jackson County.

Mississippi Guardsmen will likely have a short stay in South Mississippi, since electric power will be restored quickly. However, they might be used in Mobile, if needed, said Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, Mississippi adjutant general.

Gov. Haley Barbour was scheduled to arrive on in Gulfport at 2 p.m. and travel by National Guard helicopter to Pascagoula for a 2:30 p.m. press conference at the Emergency Operations Center.

Diamondhead report 

A friend of mine who evacuted to Starkville has heard about her home and that of another friend who lives in Diamondhead:

friends called to say that i have a decent (6-inch diameter) branch down on my fence but that it has not damaged the fence and they were even nice enough to move it off the fence for me. other than that the roof and the house are fine, the clematis bloom even stuck around. i have no power but coast electric is running around fixing things.

magee has "10 oak leaves" down in the yard and possibly a bit of eave off the house, but no other damage.

Our people report 

Quick snippets from Sun Herald reporters in the field:

From Patrick Peterson:
A quick tour of Biloxi showed only minor damage to trees, roofs and business signs, and scattered power outages. Treasure Bay casino, the most vunerable barge, was unscathed, said an employee.

The north wind caused by being on the west side of the storm prevented major beach erosion and flooding.

From photograher David Purdy, who is also in Biloxi:
There is relatively minor cosmetic damage to the casinos along Casino Row at Point Cadet. The one uniform bit of damage to casinos from reports received so far are that the ramps to the gambling barges have come disconnected -- a standard issue in these storms. Purdy got to Biloxi via U.S. 90, where he zipped along in no traffic. He said there was random damage to homes around Point Cadet, but it didn't appear to be substantial. Police officers he talked to reported similar scenarios throughout the city.

From Margaret Baker in Jackson County:
The power is already coming back on in Pascagoula. In Moss Point, there are downed trees and streets that need cleaning but it appears from early reports that damage is nowhere near as bad as had once been feared. There was a report of at least one house fire in the city.

She also said that Civil Defense there had heard no news from Northrup Grumman (commonly referred to as Ingalls) Shipyard. Again, communications have been fairly reliable in the area, which could indicate that no news is good news. To reiterate, there has been no report one way or the other.

From me:
When I drove quickly through downtown Gulfport, I saw only one bit of moderate damage. A display window at a vacant building (former shoe store) had fallen off.

Tree down 

Sun Herald reporter Patrick Peterson reports:

"We were so lucky, I can't complain," said Dot Strangi, 1537 Miller St. in Biloxi, who rode out the storm in her home two blocks off the beach. She was not afraid in the home, where she's lived since 1958. It has withstood "Camille and all the others."

"Usually, I have the whole family here," she said.

A tree in her front yard was one of the few signs of damage in her neighborhood. The fallen tree slightly damaged a trailer that contained the belongings of her daughter and son-in-law Matt and Janell Broussard, who live in low-lying Point Cadet.

Her son-in-law will have to cut up the tree to free the trailer.

"He brought his chain saw," she said.

I'm back 

I wish that everyone would have the news I got at my house and that of my folks. Our property appears to be OK and I hope everyone else can be as fortunate, although I know that won't be the case.

Back to work ...

Sneaking away 

I'm going to run and take care of some personal business, so I'll be away for the next hour or so. I'm going to check on my house and my parents' house. Sorry I can't do the same for each of you, but we're trying to get as much information out as we can as quickly as we can.

Thanks for checking in and I'll be back shortly.

O.S. update 

Sun Herald reporter Margaret Baker reports from Jackson County:

Ocean Springs police were releasing little information about hurricane damage Thursday morning, saying only that they'd had power outages in some areas and not in others.

A police spokeswoman said the city was busy fielding calls from wayward residents wanting to know if it was safe to return home.

The spokeswoman said there were some trees down on roads, with at least one near the Government Street intersection.

"We've got public works crews going out," the spokeswoman said. "We're still assessing the situation."

Harrison County update 

Harrison County Civil Defense Director Linda Rouse, like the rest of the county, is breathing a sigh of relief.

"We dodged the bullet," she said this morning about 7:15. "We came through real well and we're thankful. We could have been like Pensacola."

Early reports indicate damage in the county is low for the size and scope of the storm Hurricane Ivan was presenting to the area just 24 hours ago. Rouse said there are limbs and some trees down throughout the area, power outages for more than 70,000 homes, damage to traffic signals and signs and some water in areas that normally don't flood.

But the heaviest rainfall over the past 24 hours or so occured at Gulfport Harbor, where nearly 2.5 inches fell. In the northwest corner of Harrison County, less than 0.9 inches fell. On average, between 1 and 1.5 inches fell in the area -- far below levels that were expected. The National Weather Service has cancelled flood warnings for the county.

Rouse said a couple of businesses and several homes were damaged by fires. "Overall, I think we fared very well," she said.

All major roads and highways appear to be open and passable. In Gulfport, Lorraine Road at Jigg's fishing camp was still closed. The same was true of a couple roads in Pass Christian around Henderson Point, including Bayou Lane. Water was over the road in Sandy Hook and Ponce de Leon, but the roads were passable.

As of 9 p.m. last night, there were 3,592 people in shelters in Harrison County -- about one-quarter capacity. Shelters at Harrison Central High School and Harrison Central Elementary School lost power, but evacuees remained there to ride out the storm. American Medical Response officials said they repsonded to 21 calls between 7 p.m. Wednesday and 7 this morning. They ranged from people with breathing difficulties to routine response for house fires. One death had been reported this morning, but it was someone with a pre-existing condition and not related to the storm.

Inspection teams were going to check on area hospitals and other health care facilities that had been evacuated to determine whether the structures would allow patients to be returned.

Damage assesment teams were still in the process of making their initial reports, but there had been no notification of problems with the water systems in the county. Gulfport Harbor, which early on appeared to be headed for some trouble because of the rising storm surge, emerged relatively unscathed. A boat in the small craft harbor was reported on top of a pier and water had come into Jones Park in areas typical for heavy weather.

Rouse said people returning to their houses and business should use extreme caution. There are power lines down throughout the area, and associated debris should be be left alone until power crews clear the area for work. There are also limbs and branches hanging from trees that could fall at any point.

When entering houses, check for water-damaged wiring and smell for natural gas leaks. If you smell gas, leave the building immediately and call the gas company. Do not call from inside the affected building.

With traffic signals and signs damaged, be careful and cooperative at intersections.

-- reported by Don Hammack

VA hospital inquiry 

Ron McMillan from the Department of Veterans Affairs asks:

We are concerned about our VA Hospitals in the area.

Do you have any information about either the Gulfport or Biloxi facilities?

Your coverage is great, keep up the good work!

I don't have any specific news about them, but we're definitely in the no-news-is-good-news period. Communications here are still good, so if something had gone terribly wrong we would have most certainly heard about it by now.

The Kiwis chime in 

Petra in New Zealand writes:

A friend of mine is a police officer in Gulfport, and is rostered to work 'the Ivan shift'. I'm worried for my friend's safety and for all those who, for one reason or another, had to stay behind.

I caught some images on our TV News and that thing just blows my mind, if you'll pardon the expression. I'm chewing my fingernails keeping updated on Ivan. As far as I can see, it has weakened to a category 3 (still killer), and had veered away from a direct hit to Gulfport. Terrible luck for those more east; but for personal reasons I'm greatly relieved. On TV, that thing looked so surreal - like how I imagine a black hole to look and function, except this wasn't millions of light years away in another galaxy - it was sitting right on top of the ocean, looking dense and dangerous, spinning and plowing a path right at you. So much power is beyond my comprehension.

Anyway, enough rambling. This worried Kiwi is hoping everything is okay with you all, and especially with the heroic emergency services men and women. And most especially with my friend.

Is the worst over yet? Is everyone safe?

The worst is over here and I think we've been very fortunate here in Harrison County. Sounds like Jackson County has some more serious issues to deal with, but we're better off than those people further east.

A big tip of the cap for the public safety workers is in order. I watched firefighters working professionally during a hurricane last night trying to save a residence. Police officers were cruising the streets all night, all working 12-on, 12-off shifts scanning for trouble. Thanks to all.

Specific requests 

I'm starting to get specific requests for individual streets and neighborhoods. It's going to be very hard for us to answer all those. We'll probably report on the areas hit hardest first, naturally, and then move down in levels. Remember, all it takes is one limb from one tree across one roof to drastically alter the circumstances of one person or family, so please keep that in mind.

Keep checking with us for the latest information.

Moss Point question 

Suzy Parker writes:

My cousin lives in Moss Point on the back bay. Do you have any reports of the situation there?

Margaret Baker is doing some reporting this morning trying to put together the story from Jackson County. Keep checking here for more information as we get it.

Power outages 

Mississippi Power reports about 50,000 customers without power in South Mississippi. There are about another 20,000 customers of Coast Electric in the same situation.

Curfew being lifted in Harrison County 

Curfews in Harrison County end at 7 a.m. Thursday morning in all areas except Biloxi, which is waiting until damage assesment are completed. A city representative told Civil Defense that could by lifted sometime this morning.

Checking on his aunt 

Mike Updike writes:

My aunt Gloria lives on Woodbine Drive just north of the railroad tracks -- I talked to her last night, she figured that since she'd been through Francis, she could hold out on Ivan as well. Not a comforting thought for the rest of us, but we are over in London, England. Any word on how things are over there would be greatly appreciated.

I'm from Houston and got to experience Allison first hand - so our thoughts and prayers are with all of you, knowing what you have to get through in the next few hours, days and weeks.

The stuff I saw last night didn't indicate a lot of damage in Gulfport, but all it takes is one big limb to cause a local nightmare. We didn't get that much rain (relatively speaking) and the wind stayed from the north which helped keep the storm surge down. I'm going to go down the hall here shortly and get a general update for Harrison County.

By the way, I just called my house and I still have power a couple blocks off the beach in West Gulfport. My answering machine picked up, so that means phone and electricity exists plus cell service is still up and going.

Best line of the TV coverage? 

Trent Roberts, a former Ocean Springs resident now living in Charlotte, N.C., writes:

The best line of the night from the national media came from the Coast's own Robin Roberts, who was reporting for CNN from Mobile. This was about 9 p.m. or so:

Larry King: Robin, are you in any danger?
Robin: No ... Yes, Larry, we are, there's a hurricane coming!

Hope everyone is safe and sound.

National Guard news 

From Sun Herald military reporter Patrick Peterson:

During the storm, only two requests were made of the National Guard, both in Jackson County. They responded to a call where someone had a seizure and they escorted an ill person to Ocean Springs hospital.

A guard helicopter will survey hurricane damage from the air today, also checking for people who might be stranded.

This time from Italy 

Michael Carron

My wife Susan and I live in Italy, but have a home in Bay St. Louis and one on Bayou Talla off the Jourdan River. As our friends evacuated Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian we depended on the Sun Herald and your blog to keep us connected. Although we haven't talked to anyone yet (we are 7 hours ahead of CDT) we've begun to relax. I'm still watching the radar and IR loops and the folks in eastern Alabama and west Florida are still getting hit badly. All of us from the Coast know what they are going through and that it isn't a matter of "if," but "when" for us. Thanks for your great service.

Europe again 

Steve Bueno, who is a contractor working in the Balkans, writes:

I would like to say thanks for the updates on your Web site I am a coast resident working overseas and have been worried about my family who left the coast and are waiting Ivan out in Natchez. Keep up the good work and thanks again.

More requests about O.S. 

Tamara Ishee is another person inquiring about Ocean Springs:

I'm trying to find out any info about how East Beach in Ocean Springs has come through Ivan. My inlaws live right across the street from the water. Anything you can tell me would be greatly appreciated.

I'm still waiting for word from other there. I'll make another round of phone calls. Hang with us.

Jolly ol' England 


I don't blame you for getting some sleep, you must have had some night. I hope things go well for you, we don't get hurricanes here in England but none the less our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this difficult time.


M. A. Pells,
14 Wood Street

Back up and at 'em 

Time to get back to work.

Shutting down for a bit 

I'm going to power down the computer here for a couple hours of shuteye. Thanks for following along with us and for all the good thoughts. Keep in mind the others to the east of us that are now facing a harsh road to recovery. We will be.

I'll be back in the morning.

Tennessee waits 

Paula Treece writes:

I am a former Coast resident, too. Lived in Saucier and now am in Northeast Tennessee awaiting Ivan and his rains to come here. Thanks for your updates and I am glad that the Coast came through this one so well. I can almost hear the sigh of relief from here. I still have family and lots of friends that we have been concerned about from way up here.

Ocean Springs query 

From Solace Burris:

I'm writing to find out any info about the Ocean Springs area, my folks live a block from the beach and I'm real axious to find how the area did. They live on LaBranche Ave. Would you know about any conditions in the area or the city?

I've forwarded his question on to Margaret Baker, our reporter in Jackson County. If anybody else has word from the neck of the woods, please pass it our way.

I smell like my dad 

Some observations from our ride-along with Gulfport Fire Department Chief Pat Sullivan, who's been the journalists' best friend for sure ...

Chief Sullivan waved us to head out in a hurry at about 12:45 a.m. There was a house fire on East Beach Boulevard in Gulfport he was headed to. Turns out, it was a flare-up at the previously mentioned house earlier Thursday. The fire department had responded to residence at 1570 East Beach (at the corner of Allan Road) after a tree fell on the power line headed to the house. That caused the wiring inside to become overloaded and damaged, sparking smoldering in the attic. After waiting for Mississippi Power to come and de-energize the fallen power line, firemen saw a charring around the area where the lines feed into the house and tried to cool down some hot spots. They left hoping they had gotten them all taken care of.

Unfortunately, they didn't which made their fears come true. When we arrived, smoke was pouring out across Beach Road, which is the service road that runs in front of the Naval Home about a half-mile from the Biloxi city limits. The smoke made your eyes burn at first. We followed Sullivan up through the front yard, which was littered with small oak branches through the smoke, which we soon saw was billowing out from the carport on the east side of the house. We walked around to the northeast corner to observe the firemen, seeing more smoke coming out from under the eaves. The windows of the house were boarded up and two cars remained in the garage behind the house. On one side of the door from the garage to the house was a small sign that read "WARNING -- POLICE SIGNAL"; on the other side were the main circuit breaker boxes that had been opened for access earlier in the night.

Firefighters began climbing to the roof with a charged fire hose, trying to locate the source of the smoke. They apparently did and began to open the roof to gain access in roughly the center of the house. Smoke appeared to be coming from every where in the house except the lonely chimney. Sullivan warned the photographers to be ready for a burst of flames -- and seconds later his prediction came true. Fueled by oxygen that suddenly fed into the attic, a quick flare burst from the hole. It sent the firefighters back to the north where they climbed back down. From there, they entered through the front door. A couple minutes later, we saw a stream of water shoot out from the hole in the roof as they tried to douse the fire and cool things down.

We saw the team of about eight firefighters moving in and out of the house. They brought in thermal imagers to detect hot spots. As Sullivan would later say, the house could probably be saved by the owners. It hadn't burned to the ground.

We left there to drive around in the College Park neighborhood behind the Naval Home and around Anniston Elementary. We got out of the car at one point to move several branches that had blocked the road. As we made our way to Pass Road, Sullivan heard a report on the department's radio circuits about a fire alarm at the America's Thrift Store on Pass Road. We made a U-turn to go back to the east so he could investigate. It's a large, one-story, windowless building (formerly a Service Merchandise store). The front entry doors had been boarded up completely, except for a strip at the top about 15 feet up where you could see the flashing lights of the alarm inside. There was no sign of smoke coming from doors or out of vents in the roof. Sullivan drove around the building, again with no sign of fire. A fire engine arrived shortly thereafter and they waited to see if someone with a key for the building could be found to let them in. We left to continue our tour. (Later, we heard the keyholder wouldn't come until Thursday during the day.)

We drove through the neighborhood around Washington Ave., back toward Bernard Bayou. Just west of the intersection of Tegarden and Commerce, a tree had fallen to block the road. It was a fortunate occurence, even though it knocked a power pole down with it and ripping down power lines. It had fallen squarely in the street and not on a nearby house. Commerce was completely blocked, and will be until power crews can come out and cut off power to the lines so the tree can be cut down and removed.

The rest of the next couple of hours were spent with images reinforcing what we'd already seen at the start of the ride. There is virtually no standing water on U.S. 90. I mean, three guys driving down the highway spitting juice from a big chaw would put more liquid on the road. (OK, a slight exaggeration, but nearly every summer afternoon thunderstorm puts five times more water across the road than what we saw tonight.)

The roads are empty except for a few public safety cars and the odd person trying to check on a house. They are politely stopped and asked to hurry about their business.

What about the title of this entry? Well, for many years my father was a paramedic and volunteer fireman. You could always tell when he came home from a fire. There'd be this smokey smell I've covered in from our first stop tonight permeating the house. So, I'm thinking about him early this morning. He's usually down here at the courthouse helping at Civil Defense. He's in North Carolina now, though, working for FEMA trying to help the people who were flooded by another in this horrific streak of storms, Frances.

I smell smokey and I'm thinking about him.

-- posted by Don Hammack

The StL checks in 

From Larry Kirk:

Larry Kirk here - former Biloxi resident - in St. Louis, far from the storms (whew!) but still have family all over South Mississippi ... so the prayers are with you guys. Hope you and the rest of the people on the Coast stay safe and ride another one out! Keep posting so we know what is really going on from the front line. Of course understanding a hurricane and what it is like to ride on out -- well you dont know for sure until you are in one. Again best wishes and hang on tight!!!

More from Jackson County 

The Sun Herald's Margaret Baker reports:

Officials at the emergency operations center said that the eye of the storm has passed over Fort Myers and Gulf Shores, with widespread damage reported in surrounding coastal cities, including Pensacola.

In the last 24 hours, officials reported nearly five inches of rain, with wind gusts exceeding 80 mph in Jackson County by 2 a.m.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd said he fought heavy winds to respond to a report of death, believed to be from natural causes. Coroner Vicki Broadus was unable to make it to the scene because of the heavy wind and flooding.

Outside, the winds continue to strengthen, threatening to down power lines, streetlights and signs. Uprooted trees and broken branches already have been reported in the area.

Just back in 

Sorry for the long break in posts here. Had the opportunity to take another ride through Gulfport. Conditions are remarkably good here. Will update further within a half hour or so.

Gulfport weather 

We are getting hurricane force winds here in Gulfport. A Harrison County sheriff's deputy said the water along the beach is being held back by those winds, which are from the north to northeast.

A little apology in Latin 

The last e-mailer quickly sent this in:

So of course the Weather Channel is now broadcasting live from Gulfport and I must eat my words. Mea impatienca culpa. (Just felt obliged to set the record straight.)

TSH photographer checks in 

David Purdy, the Sun Herald photographer working with me out of the courthouse, just returned from a ride-around with the Gulfport Fire Department. He said there's been surprisingly little rain. Most of the damage visible at this late hour are small branches down, with some fire department personnel cutting down limbs to keep the roads clear. The wind is now a factor.


Last post along this vein, sent in by Cynthia Koets:

God bless the Gulf Coast while you prepare for Ivan. I remember Camille ... horrible. I now live in southeast Florida, and we are still reeling from Frances, terrible damage here. Bad enough here, worse still on our southwest coast from Charlie.

For the La-La-Land comment about Florida-centric, that's pretty cruel as the entire Southeastern US fears these storms, and the peninsula in particular. Perhaps La-La should take a look at hurricane history.

For those of you in the Gulf who are bracing yourselves right now, my prayers are focused on you. Good luck and be safe.

Personally, I'd just as soon never seen anybody from an outside television station here for reasons like this.


An e-mailer from the West Coast:

Guess you're in for a long night -- hope you have someone to "spell" you so you can get some rest. Those of us watching from the West coast very much appreciate your work. And I second the opinion that the weather channel's Florida-centric coverage is not serving us well (not that we lack sympathy for the Floridians).

In some ways, we here in La-La-Land envy the "warning" time that a hurricane offers (as opposed to an earthquake) but in other ways, it also seems to ratchet up the anxiety to have it drawn out over such a long period. Really hope you grab any opportunity to get some rest.

We send you all our best wishes that y'all come through this safely.

I'm not sure how much longer I'll be posting tonight. If I get to a slow spot, I'm sure I'll find a catnap.

Another former TSHer checks in 

Kevin Hecteman, who now lives in Stockton, Calif., writes:

I'm a former resident of Biloxi (indeed, a former employee of the Sun Herald from November 1999 to July 2002). I consider myself fortunate that no hurricane of this size threatened the Gulf Coast while I was living there. I'm keeping track of the hurricane from near San Francisco. I hope everyone gets through this in one piece. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone there, especially friends from the Sun Herald, the D-Day Museum in New Orleans and the baseball circuit. Godspeed, everyone...

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Tuscaloosa worries about food 

Jimmy Boone, who is more than a little familiar with South Mississippi and The Sun Herald writes:

I used to live in Gulfport, and was a shelter manager at Gulfport High when
Andrew threatened. I also worked as a sports writer at the Sun-Herald. Now I
am in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and we are expecting 70 mph winds on Thursday.

One of my favorite places to eat is the White Cap in the small craft harbor.
I saw where you wrote Moses Pier was almost underwater. Is the White Cap in
any danger as well?

Glad for the Mississippi Coast that Ivan is starting to go more east, of
course feel sorry for the folks at Gulf Shores Alabama and Pensacola.

Our prayers continue for all.

I've been stuck here at the courthouse since that outing, but the reports I've heard is that the water hadn't really risen much more since that time. That's been a few hours ago since the last update from them, but that's the latest information I have. The White Cap was indeed boarded up and I took special notice of it when I was out there. It was OK then.

Wondering about coverage 

Kim Rohr submitted the following e-mail, which does not reflect The Sun Herald's opinion of a certain television station:

Looks rough down there. Hopefully the eye will keep moving east.

Planning to come down to Pascagoula Fri. and see what is left of Mom's place. Fortunately she had a trip planned to see us in TN before this hit. Hope it's not as bad as Camille (3 foot of water in the house).

Cannot get MS FEMA page up -- too many hits I guess.

Man the weather channel stinks. You'd think the whole world lives in FL or N.O. No real info either until late.

Good Luck and hopefully I'll be able to get down Fri.

Jackson County update 

The Sun Herald's Margaret Baker reports:

Jackson County Civil Defense Director Butch Loper said in a briefing late Wednesday evening that Hurricane Ivan was continuing to move to a northeast direction at about 12 mph, with the storm expected to make landfall between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

Loper said Jackson County residents could expect to see maximum sustained winds of up to 80 mph, with the Mobile area already experiencing the brunt of the storm.

"About 6 to 7 a.m., we should be able to get out," Loper said. "So, we've been lucky unless something changes."

Paige Roberts, executive director of the Southeast Chapter of the American Red Cross, said the local shelters remain over capacity, with 1,670 evacuees in three shelters, whose combined total capacity is 1,100.

Roberts has worked throughout the morning and night, even using her Spanish speaking skills to talk to a man stranded at the Jackson County Welcome Center. Roberts said she was able to determine that the man was a native of Texas and traveling with his wife and two children, who were given directions to the shelter at East Central High School in Hurley. The couple and family made to the shelter safely.

Roberts said, "We're still not turning anyone away."

More power outages in HarCo 

Civil Defense reports that area in Gulfport includine Bayou View Park and north have lost power.

Harrison County shelter loses power 

Harrison Central Elementary School, which is being used as an evacuation shelter, has lost power. Civil Defense says the 222 people being sheltered there will stay there, as it's too dangerous to move that number of folks in current weather conditions.

Harrison County damage update 

Civil Defense reports the storm has caused fires at a house and a small business in Gulfport after debris fell power lines. They also report trees lying across power lines on East Railroad Street in Gulfport. Other power lines are down at the intersection of Woodward Avenue and U.S. 90 in Gulfport as well as at Woodglen Avenue and at the intersection of 38th Avenue and 10th Street. In Biloxi, live wires are down in Miramar Park on U.S. 90.

More well wishes 

From Mickey Smith:

I am native Mississippian and have been checking up on your website for my hometown Pascagoula-Gautier area from Scottsdale Ariz. I knew since my first experience with Freddy at 9 yrs what a Hurricane can do ... I've been in 2 more Hurricanes (Elena and George) before I left for Scottsdale in '99 and been checking up on the Sun Herald from time to time and want wish my friends in Pascagoula and Gautier area my prayers ... I've also been educating folks up here about what a Hurricane can do and how powerful they are ... Hopefully we (Mississippians) will overcome this like we always do ... and thanks for the news as you get them ... Godspeed...

Readers respond to Stan Tiner's column 

Folks respond to Sun Herald Executive Editor Stan Tiner's column from Wednesday:

From Elaine Bolea in Hollywood, Fla.:
Surmised every feeling of dread, despair and hope that I and many like me have been experiencing for the past several weeks while enduring three separate threats of a direct hit from a major storm.

I am praying hard for you and your community Mr. Tiner. We all are.

May God bless and keep you and yours out of harms way.

From Kenda Robertson in Florida:
Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. I know what you’re feeling having felt the wrath of Charley and Frances. You’ll be fine.

From Toni Manibusan:
I live in California, and I just fininshed reading your editorial. I want you to know that there are many of us here on the West Coast whose prayers are with you and your families. Most of us here have never experienced a hurricane. We are earthquake folk here as you know. Please be safe. And God bless you all.

From Andrea Lee Janssen:
I settled in to read the evening news, and was drawn to your article through Yahoo! website. We all may be way up here in Wisconsin, thanking the good Lord we're not down there, but that doesn't mean our thoughts and prayers aren't with you all. Lord bless you all and keep you safe, the South survived plenty, and we all know it will keep on surviving ... I'm reminded of something the Lord said in the Bible once ... "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Your state and surrounding states are in my prayers, my family's prayers, and all the bible studies at UW Whitewater. Stay safe, and be blessed.

From Ben Wong:
My name is Ben, and I live in Toronto Canada. I was surfing the web just now and I found your article. Like you said "We all make decisions every day, ... Choices and consequences. And afterwards, we will take inventory and judge ourselves about the quality of those decisions.”

I truly hope you and everyone in your City will be safe, please take care, May the Lord bless you.

From: Kerri Ann Leonardo:
Hello, my name is Kerri Ann Leonardo, my fiancé and I live in Massachusetts but we have family friends who reside in southern Mississippi. I just wanted to say that I read your story on the Sun Herald and thought you did a wonderful job writing the story "Watching, Waiting, Praying." I was very touched and would like you to know we are saying prayers for everyone's safety. Thank you and God bless!

Jackson County update 

Another update from Sun Herald reporter Margaret Baker:

Officials at the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center in Pascagoula lost power about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday as Hurricane Ivan plowed its way to land.

Backup generators kicked in and allowed officials to continue to work.

Officials, including Sheriff Mike Byrd, were monitoring several places that flooded: St. Andrews on the beach was underwater, as was Beach Park Boulevard in Pascagoula. Water from Bayou Cassotte was crossing Bayou Cumbest Road, Byrd said, and the Escatawpa River was out of its banks at Shingle Mill Landing.

So far, the heaviest flooding was in the eastern part of the county, near the Alabama state line. Wind gusts were estimated at about 90 mph.

Byrd also said that 263 inmates at the Jackson County Adult Detention Center were evacuated early Wednesday, between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. It was the first evacuation in the jail's history. The inmates were taken to five north Mississippi counties, including Hinds and Claiborne. The inmates were transported safely with help from the Mississippi Department of Corrections and officials from the staff of Gov. Haley Barbour.

Said Byrd: "We had to send most of the deputies that work at the ADC with them."

Nursing home worries relieved 

A repeat poster, Del Oehms Hamilton, says thanks:

Thanks again for what you are doing. We have all been frantic about my aunt who was at the Miramar Nursing home in Pass Christian. Her daughter has been so worried after hearing they had not evacuated. Through your site we now know that they patients there have all been taken to safety.

My parents are with my brother in North Biloxi and we are praying that all our extended family is safe and now thanks to you we know my aunt is taken care of.

Take care and stay safe

Stock up, you never know when you might need it 

From Sun Herald reporter Melissa Scallan and her travels earlier today:

Hours before Hurricane Ivan made landfall, the streets of Gulfport, Biloxi and Ocean Springs were deserted except for news crews and a few walkers.

The only business that was open was the Sonic in Ocean Springs where a few residents enjoyed a meal under shelter from the slight rain.

Red lights were operational in Gulfport and Ocean Springs but were flashing down U.S. 90 in Biloxi.

Some businesses along the thoroughfare posted messages for those residents brave enough to get out and see them.

The Grand Casino in Biloxi posted a sign at the top of the casino that said, "All Bets Off 'Til Ivan Folds."

The sign in front of an adult book and video store, though closed, urged passersby to "Stock up for Ivan."

Governor asks for assistance 

In Jackson, Gov. Haley Barbour asked President Bush to declare a major disaster in Mississippi because of Hurricane Ivan. Barbour declared a state of emergency Tuesday for the coastal counties and all other affected areas.

"Our focus is on helping our citizens receive the relief they need from the impact of this strong storm," Barbour said in a press release. "From what we can predict at this time, we will need federal assistance to aid our citizens in coastal communities to return to their normal lives."

A preliminary damage assessment will be conducted as soon as possible after the landfall of Hurricane Ivan. The request for assistance includes individual assistance, debris removal, emergency protective measures in the first 72 hours, pubic assistance for local governments and infrastructure, disaster unemployment, crisis counseling, disaster legal services, and the Small Business Administration Disaster Loans program.

Damage reports 

Information from the Harrison County Emergency Operations Center indicates that power is out at Henderson Point (the western tip of Pass Christian, near the beach) and in half of D'Iberville. That would affect about 8,000 homes and it's probably just the beginning.

A call from the owner of Famous Joe's restaurant and Bar on Point Cadet (the area of Old Biloxi in the eastern part of the city right on Biloxi Bay) indicated that a 30-foot portion of his building's roof had been blown off. Just across the street at the Palace Casino, the first deck of the parking garage is under water.

-- reported by Don Hammack

From the Northwest 

Sharon Premo from Oregon sends:

I lived in Gulfport for 2 years. I went through Hurricane Frederick. I lived one block from the community center on Finley St. I have friends that still live there on the street halfway down, two-story house. I remember the waiting for it to hit shore. Went to stay at Tica's mom's house out by the airport-could here a thud every once in a while during eye of storm -- found out it was pine trees had fallen inches from the window were we were, and inches from the car.

I pray for every one there. . . .

Mississippi Power bunkering down 

As of about 45 minutes ago, Mississippi Power stopped sending its crews out. Any further repairs to the power grid will have to wait until the storm passes.

More on the National Guard 

Sun Herald military reporter Patrick Peterson files:

Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard, said that 1,200 Guardsmen will form the first mobilization in response to Hurricane Ivan, which was on a track to make landfall just east of Pascagoula.

More Guardsmen could be called if needed.

Some eleven National Guard aircraft, mostly helicopters, were availble for hurricane relief operations. Cross has put a National Guard plane on alert for the possible evacuation of residents of a Coast nursing home, who found other means of getting to safety before the plane was needed.

Two Guard helicopters at the Air National Guard center are slated to survey hurricane damage across the Coast on Thursday, as soon as the winds subside.

More briefs 

Two more short stories from The Sun Herald's Robin Fitzgerald:

Still room in shelters

Harrison County's Emergency Operations Center reports people are still finding their way into one of the 16 shelters operated by the American Red Cross.

As of 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, the shelters are 24 percent full, with 3,480 people housed in buildings with a combined capacity of 14,338.

Civil Defense Director Linda Rouse reminds residents a curfew is in effect from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

However, public safety workers are trying to help anyone who needs assistance getting to a shelter, said Gulfport Police Officer Pat Young.

"We had one family convince some neighbors to come to a shelter, but the family didn't have a ride," he said. "We sent a vehicle to pick them up."

"But there won't be any mid-storm rescues," Young said. "Once the hurricane makes landfall, probably around 1 a.m., we're keeping public safety workers inside for their safety so they can get back out there and help as needed in the aftermath."

Shelters at Quarles Elementary in Long Beach and Jeff Davis Elementary in Biloxi are nearly 75 percent full, he said.

About emergency operations

About 50 people are alternating in 12-hour shifts at Harrison County's Emergency Operations Center in the Civil Defense Office at the County Courthouse in Gulfport.

Those assisting the Civil Defense Director Linda Rouse include American Red Cross representatives, law enforcement, fire, ambulance, public works, roads and health department personnel. Several city and county officials also are part of the team, along with representatives of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Air National Guard.

National Guard begins patrolling 

Sun Herald military reporter Patrick Peterson sent in this report:

GULFPORT -- State National Guardsmen began patrolling with Coast deputies on Wednesday to help them learn the areas that might be hardest hit by he storm.

"They'll assist (local) police as soon as they can get out (on Thursday)," said Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard.

As many as 200 state Guardsmen arrived in South Mississippi on Wednesday, and 1,000 were scheduled to arrive by noon Thursday, traveling from North Mississippi and Camp Shelby when the storm slows.

"Businesses breathe easier when we're here," said Lt. Col. Tim Powell, spokesman for the Mississippi National Guard.

Hurricane Ivan was on a track to make landfall near 1 a.m. near the Mississippi/Alabama line, and Jackson County would be the hardest hit.

A squad of military police and military engineers was posted at each Emergency Operations Center in the three Coast counties. The Guard, however, posted four, 5-ton trucks and 20 Guard drivers at the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center in Pascagoula, poised to evacuate residents trapped by rising water.

Guardsmen will not make routine evacuations during the storm.

"It would have to be a life-or-limb emergency," said Cross.

Cross said Gov. Haley Barbour planned to visit South Mississippi as soon as weather conditions allowed him to fly.

Some 1,000 state Guardsmen came to the Coast to help during and after Hurricane Georges in 1998.

Nearly half of the state's 10,000 Guard troops are serving overseas or mobilized and training to serve in Iraq next year. Cross said up to 5,000 of the state's remaining troops could be mobilized, and 8,500 Army troops now training at Camp Shelby could also be called on to help.

More driving horror stories 

Chelley Pratt, a former Ocean Springs resident, related this travel story heading west:

My husband and I recently moved to Lake Charles, LA but still own a home in a mandatory evacuation area of Jackson County. We headed to the house Tuesday morning and made the normal four-hour trip in just that amount of time. We checked on our tenants and boarded up the windows, then began to head back to Lake Charles. Of course, everyone else was heading west, too. The normal four-hour trip??? 11.5 hours!!! Thank goodness the gas stations in Louisiana stayed open all night and the clerks all along the way were extremely nice, helpful and patient in dealing with all of us who were stuck in traffic!

Best wishes to all along the coast! We will be thinking of you all and will return to help in the cleanup!

Officials to ride out storm in Pascagoula 

From The Sun Herald's Margaret Baker:

During a 4:30 p.m. meeting at City Hall in Pascagoula, officials decided to remain in the building on Watts Avenue to ride out the storm, manning phone calls and offering assistance to anyone reported stranded in the city.

Police Chief Michael Whitmore reported no significant storm-related problems, though the winds had downed two trees on Market Street. Other trees were reported down in a few yards. Whitmore said police officers had some problems with loitering and people under the influence of alcohol and involved in domestic-related disturbances.

Stephen Mitchell, the city's chief building official, also issued a warning to residents to watch out for scam artists expected in the area once the storm passes. He said that officials with the Mississippi Board of Contractors are expected in the city Monday, and any suspected scam artists in the area should be reported to the city at 938-6620.

Joanna Anderson, public information officer for the Emergency Operations Center, said the highest winds gusts reported in the city as of 5:30 p.m. was 45 mph.

Earlier in the day, city officials issued mandatory curfews, with residents expected to remain indoors after 6 p.m. tonight.

"Traffic is pretty much non-existent," Whitmore said. Streets throughout the area were mostly deserted, with a few residents who refused to leave at home.

Tour of Gulfport Harbor 

I just took about an hour's tour starting around 6 p.m. with two other press-types down to the Gulfport Harbor with Gulfport Fire Department Chief Pat Sullivan. We started down 20th Avenue on the eastern edge of the harbor. Waves of 4 to 5 feet were threatening to submerge Moses Pier, which juts out to the east about halfway down the harbor. The waves were lapping at the road there, too.

We stayed out there for about 10 minutes. The winds weren't too bad yet, although you could feel an increase in intensity in the time we were out there. It also wasn't raining very hard either.

We left and went west down the harbor and pulled past Marine Life where we saw Moby Solangi, the facilities president, leaving after making one final check on his people who will stay there to ride out the storm with the animals.

Our next stop was a quick drive-by of the Copa Casino. There, we could see rolling waves -- without white caps -- in the protected harbor. They were starting to threaten the concrete bulkhead to the south of the casino, but it appeared to be doing well so far.

The next casino on our tour was the Gulfport Grand, again just to the west. Conditions there were much different. As happened in Isidore a few years ago, the gambling barge has floated significantly higher because of the storm surge. The ramp to the north side at the east end of the casino had fallen off the barge. In Isidore, that ramp severed gas mains, nearly causing a catastrophy. The gas supply to those pipes have been stopped at the road to avoid a similar incident.

Still, the sight of the ever-present "Watch Your Step" signs that guard the entrances to all our Coast casinos looked rather humorous in this setting. It would now be about a 10-foot step up to get to the casino floor, although the entrance is now blocked by rolling shutters. It appeared the barge had risen about 4 feet with the other 6 feet caused by the fall of the ramp. The entrance ramp on the north side of the casino has also separated about 4 feet from the barge. There was one truckload of Gulfport firement there when we arrived. A pumper truck and another pickup truck arrived while we were there, as well as a large contingent of Mississippi Power personnel.

-- reported by Don Hammack

Emergency at P.C. nursing home 

Federal intervention was needed to evacuate a Pass Christian nursing home Wednesday afternoon. Miramar Lodge Nursing Home's 120 residents had to be taken from the facility by about 40 ambulances, a school bus and an RTA bus after they had failed to evacuate when the initial mandatory order was issued. The building is located on U.S. 90, the beachfront road.

"We thought it was unsafe for them to be there," said Steve Delahousey, vice president of operations for AMR, the local ambulance provider.

Local officials ordered the evacuation, which started around 4:30 p.m. The residents, including 70 who were bedridden, were taken to the hospitals at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, the Biloxi Veterans Administration hospitals and evacuation shelters in Biloxi and Bay St. Louis.

By declaring the emergency imminent and serious, officials were able to use the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, which allows local base commanders to open federal facilities for such uses. Gov. Haley Barbour was also involved in the chain of events.

-- reported by David Purdy and Don Hammack

Fire in downtown Gulfport 

Gulfport Fire Department Chief Pat Sullivan reports that his firemen put out a fire at a downtown business at about 5 p.m. Quick Cuts Barber and Beauty, 3002 31st Ave., was heavily damaged inside. It's part of a strip mall of three other business, but the fire was contained to the barber shop. Initial reports say an overloaded electrical outlet looked like the cause of the blaze.

-- reported by Don Hammack

Health department warning 

A press release from the Mississippi State Department of Health:

Hurricanes, especially if accompanied by a tidal surge or flooding, can contaminate the public water supply. Drinking contaminated water may cause illness. Individuals cannot assume that the water in the hurricane-affected area is safe to drink. The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) will continually monitor water systems and test when necessary to ensure that the public water systems are safe. Complete testing requires two clear samples and typically takes 48-72 hours.

In an area hit by a hurricane, water treatment plants may not be operating. Even if they are, storm damage and flooding can contaminate water lines, especially if pressure is lost. Listen for public announcements about the safety of water supply systems.

If your well has been flooded, it needs to be tested and disinfected after the storm passes and the floodwaters recede. Questions about testing should be directed to your local county health department or the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Water for Drinking and Cooking

Safe drinking water includes bottled, boiled or treated water. Your state or local health department can make specific recommendations for boiling or treating drinking water in your area. Here are some general rules concerning water for drinking and cooking to remember:
* Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food or make ice.
* If you use bottled water, know where it came from. Otherwise, water should be boiled or treated before use. Drink only bottled, boiled or treated water until your supply is tested and found safe.
* Boiling water kills harmful bacteria and parasites. Bringing water to a rolling boil for 1 minute will kill most organisms.
* Water may be treated with chlorine or iodine tablets or by mixing eight drops (1/8 teaspoon) of unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach (5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water. Mix the solution thoroughly, and let stand for about 30 minutes. However, this treatment will not kill parasitic organisms.

Containers for water should be rinsed with a bleach solution before reusing them. Use water storage tanks and other types of containers with caution. For example, fire truck storage tanks as well as previously used cans or bottles may be contaminated with microbes or chemicals. Do not rely on untested devices for decontaminating water.

How do I disinfect my well?

It is important to disinfect both the well and plumbing with chlorine bleach to ensure that all infectious agents are killed. If you have water treatment devices, remove all membranes, cartridges and filters and replace them with new membranes, cartridges or filters after the chlorination process is completed.

The amount of chlorine and the length of time you allow it to remain in your system are equally important. Common unscented laundry bleach can be used effectively as a chlorine disinfectant. Follow these steps for the recommended usage amount of chlorine bleach:

* If the water is discolored before chlorination, run the water until it is clear for up to 10 minutes.
* Turn off and then drain your hot water heater—chlorine is not effective in water above 105 degrees.
* Remove and replace charcoal filters after the chlorination process is completed.
* To avoid adding contamination to the well during disinfection, first clean the work area around the top of the well. Remove grease and mineral deposits from accessible parts of the well head and flush the outside surfaces with 1/2 cup of laundry bleach in 5 gallons of water.
* Turn off the pump. Remove the cap or the well plug on the rubber seal. There are many types of well caps and plugs. If you have questions, you should contact a licensed well driller. If you have a submersible pump, you may also want to contact a licensed well driller for advice on disinfection procedures. Try to coat the sides of the casing as you pour. If you get chlorine on the pump or wiring, flush it thoroughly with fresh water to prevent later corrosion. Your county health department may issue additional guidance for your area.
* Re-cap or plug the well opening and wait 24 hours.
* Turn on and, if needed, reprime the pump. Open all the faucets on the system one by one. Allow the water to run until there is a noticeable smell of chlorine. You may also want to flush the toilets. If you have outside faucets, you may want to direct the water away from sensitive plants. If you cannot detect a chlorine odor, re-chlorinate the well.
* Turn off all the faucets and allow the chlorine to remain in the system for at least eight hours.
* Backwash water softeners, sand filters and iron removal filters with chlorinated water.
* Again open all the faucets and run the water until there is no chlorine smell—for up to 15 minutes.

Is it safe now?

The only way to verify that the water is safe to drink is to have it tested. Although chlorine bleach is effective against microorganisms, it will not remove chemical contamination that may have gotten into your well. Contact your county health department for sampling instructions to get your water tested.

For more information on emergency preparation, visit the MSDH website.

U.S. Forest Service postpones meetings 

The open houses scheduled for the public with Forest Service employees to discuss the Forest Plan Revision have been postponed due to Hurricane Ivan. Meeting dates postponed are:
September 16: Town Of Forest Community Center (Bienville)
September 20: De Soto Ranger District Office, Wiggins (De Soto)
September 21: Orange Grove Community Center (De Soto)
September 23: The Library of Hattiesburg, Hattiesburg (Chickasawhay and De Soto)

New dates for the Bienville Ranger District, the Chickasawhay and De Soto Ranger Districts will be announced as soon as possible.

Well wishes from others recently affected 

An e-mailer from Florida writes:

For all of you Mississippians, the storm is just the beginning ... aftermath is terrible ... prepare for it emotionally ... flooding, food, gas, tempers, debris, and you can't go running to anyone for emotional support, everyone is just like you ... so prepare ... know that things are going to be tough, it's going to take time lots of time, and when you go home ... it's going to be different and it's going to take lots of patience ... go there with the patience ... just know that somewhere down the road everything will be back to normal ... unfortunately it will not be soon ... be it will be ... we in Central Florida have you in our prayers, WE REALLY DO!

Biloxi extends curfew 

Biloxi city officials have extended curfews there indefinitely starting at 7 p.m. tonight.

Gulfport wind speeds 

I just glanced at the display in the Harrison County Emergency Operation Center in downtown Gulfport and it looks like winds are still in the teens, with gusts up to 25 mph or so.

Postal service update 

The U.S. Postal Service has announced that all post offices along the Mississippi Gulf Coast will remain closed Thursday, a second consecutive day. Nearly all offices in the entire 395 ZIP code area are affected, except Saucier, Perkinston, McHenry and Wiggins.

Two post offices in the 394 area -- Leakesville and Lucedale -- will be closed Thursday. All other offices are expected to be closed unless the local postmaster deems it necessary. Mail delivery will be attempted to all areas that are passable and safe for carriers to enter.

Customers seeking additional information may go online to or call (800) ASK-USPS. Postal employees in affected areas should call (888) 363-7462 two hours prior to their reporting time for updated instructions. Hearing-impaired postal employees should call (800) 582-2233 and request relay assistance to transcribe the recorded message.

More vignettes 

One of The Sun Herald's most active folks during the storm has been cops reporter Robin Fitzgerald, who files these two briefs.

Avoiding the storm

Michael Saunders of Long Beach evacuated from Florida to avoid Hurricane Ivan. Now, he says he's "stuck like chuck" with friends in Lyman.

"My company told me to just stay here," said Saunders, an insurance adjustor. "They told me there will be work for me to do here after the hurricane hits."

Saunders, his son, Ray, 23, and a beagle named Bandit are riding out the storm at the home of Lonnie and Nyoka Myer on South Fork Drive.

Lonnie Myer was preparing to grill chicken and sausage in spite of drizzling rain before night fall while his son, Drew, 7, danced around in their carport and daughter Sydney, 12 months, slept.

"We've got some music going and we're making the best of it," said Myer.

His wife, however, said news reports that Ivan likely will make landfall between Pascagoula and Pensacola and not in Harrison County isn't much consolation.

"I still wish we had gone somewhere else," Nyoka Myer said.

Still at work

A few people are still evacuating South Mississippi, according to Kim Pran, who said she's selling them gasoline and snacks at her store, Lyman Quick Stop.

"We will stay open until the weather gets bad," Pran said around 4:30 p.m.

An ambulance was parked in front of her business at U.S. 49 and Mississippi 53, waiting to respond to any emergency calls.

The scene in Jackson 

Thanks to Debbie Player for this look at what's going on in the state capital with the influx of folks from this neck of the woods.

It's 12:00 o'clock noon on Wednesday, September 15th--lunchtime for those of us who are still working. The sun is shining and the wind is picking up. Ivan the Terrible is on his way to reek havoc with our everyday lives, like my habitual trip to Northpark Mall.

I need to pay my Dillard's bill--it's the 15th of the month, after all. County Line Road is bad enough on a weekday, but with the influx of refugee-visitors who have nothing to do but drive around aimlessly, the trip is comparable to the Demolition Derby.

Apparently, sightseeing is better than staying glued by the TV to watch the latest Ivan the Terrible update on the Weather Channel. I certainly sympathize with that notion. However, bumper-to-bumper traffic going at a snail's pace is a sure way to test the patience of a local, particularly if your lunch hour has almost expired

As I cruise through the Mall parking lot looking for a parking space, I see mostly Louisiana or Alabama, or Jackson County, Mississippi license plates. The unusually packed parking lot doesn't prepare me for all of the children running amok inside. For a brief moment, I wonder if it's still summer and all of the schools are closed. Then, it occurs to me that worried mothers would want their kids to expend all of that hyper-energy so they could sleep through the night on a hard floor of a motel room with nothing more than a blanket, or anxious fathers would want to block out their fears of the future and what will be left when they return home.

Hell, I'm lucky I have my own bed to sleep in tonight, and God willing, tomorrow I should still have my own home. It is my fervent prayer of hope that Ivan the Terrible will fizzle out into a Category 1 hurricane, and everyone can go home to nothing more than the aftermath of a little thunderstorm.

A first-person report 

Anita Lee, The Sun Herald's Harrison County reporter, files this first-person account from today's activity:

Ivan trumpeted his arrival on the beach in Biloxi by 2 p.m. Wednesday. The water looked unnatural, coursing westerly and heaving up surf in the Mississippi Sound, normally tamer waters. A few sightseers walked the sand alongside an otherwise barren beach highway.

You see the oddest things when the threat of a killer storm heightens your senses. An Oleander swayed like a dancer beside the seawall.

A threesome walked along the surf with an Irish wolfhound. Where they came from and where they would go remains a mystery.

I was headed to an American Red Cross Shelter at Jeff David Elementary School, safely north of the beach in Biloxi, where I plan to stay until Ivan moves north.

First, I went to check the house. We live less than two blocks from the beach in Biloxi, so I'm very apprehensive about a hurricane this powerful. It looks like the tidal surge might miss us, although we did haphazardly stack some furniture aboveground Tuesday night. And I do mean haphazardly.

We turned an antique oak desk upside down and balanced it atop two kitchen chairs. Other valuables we piled on the beds.

In these situations, people find that family photos are their most precious possessions. We wrapped ours in plastic and put them on a closet shelf, hoping the water oak beside the house would not damage the roof. You can do only so much to fend off nature.

One of my most precious items I brought with me to the shelter. It is a microcassette tape. I've got it wrapped in a sandwich bag in my purse, here beside me in the shelter. On it is my mother's voice when she called to wish me happy birthday July 11. She died unexpectedly eight days later. But I still have her voice, crackling over her cellphone she insisted on using because the minutes were unlimited.

The Red Cross shelters are above flood levels. All bets are off if a tornado heads our way. But for now, pople are napping, listening to gospel music from a boom box, drinking coffee, playing cards, passing time. It is 4 p.m. now, at least nine or so hours before Ivan, which I last heard would come in shortly after midnight.

Two members of the Mississippi National Guard have just arrived and a Biloxi police officer is here with us, too. So we are, I suppose, as safe as anyone can claim to be.

Traffic subsiding; list of shelters 

Here's a substantially longer list of shelters outside the three coastal counties. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and Mississippi Department of Transportation have identified these locations to Harrison County Civil Defense for travelers to use upstate.

MDOT informs everyone that evacuation traffic has subsided on Highway 49 through Forrest County (Hattiesburg area). Motorists are encouraged to take extra precautions as strong wind and heavy rain increase.

American Red Cross Shelters outside the three coast counties are:
· Crossgates United Methodist Church, 21 Crossgates Drive, Brandon, MS
· Trinity Presbyterian Church, 3223 Poplar Springs Drive, Meridian, MS
· Moselle Memorial Baptist Church, 62 U.S. 11 South, Moselle, MS
· Family Y in Hattiesburg, Veterans Memorial Drive, Hattiesburg.
· Collins United Methodist Church, 405 Gadenia Ave., Collins.
· First Baptist Church, 77 Shelby Speights Drive, Purvis.
· First Baptist Church, 407 Main St., Greenville.
· First Baptist Church, 814 Azalea Drive, Waynesboro.
· First Baptist Church, 900 High St., Columbia.
· Gateway Baptist Campground, 100 Gateway Campground Road, Ellisville.
· First Baptist Church, 741 South Line, Grenada
· Salvation Army Camp, Hwy 12 between Tchula and Lexington
· First Baptist Church, Hwy. 27, Hazelhurst
· Hattiesburg Family Y, 3719 Memorial Dr., Hattiesburg
· The Courthouse, 46 Northtown, Jackson
· Poplar Springs U.M. Church, 3937 Poplar Springs Dr., Meridian
· First Baptist Church, 77 Shelby Speights Dr., Purvis
· First Baptist Church - Life Center, 1607 Cherry St., Vicksburg
· First Baptist Church, 200 East Monticello, Brookhaven
· First Baptist Church, 125 Hwy.. 37 N., Taylorsville
· Wayne Co. High School, Hwy 184, Waynesboro
· Magnolia Baptist Chuch, 1040 Wansley Rd., Laurel
· Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Hwy. 51 S., Wesson
· Madison United Methodist, 2050 Main St., Madison
· Richland High School, Hwy. 49, Richland
· First Baptist, 302 W. Jackson St., Ridgeland
· Southside Missionary Baptist Church, 100 Nashville Ferry Rd., Columbus
· Bancorp South Center, 375 West Main St., Tupelo
· Perry Central High School, Hwy. 98 E., Runnelstown
· Smith Co. AG Complex, 131 Old Field Rd., Raleigh
· First Baptist Church, 314 Welcome St., Taylorsville
· Community Chapel Church of God, 101 Oakland Dr., Natchez
· Washington Baptist Church, 39 Old Hwy. 84, Natchez
· Bomar Ave. Baptist Church, 1825 Hwy 61 S., Vicksburg
· Trinity Baptist Church, 10700 Bluff Rd., Hernando
George County Shelters include:
· George County High School, 9284 U.S. 63 South, Lucedale.
· George County Middle School, 330 Church St., Lucedale
Pearl River County Shelters include:
· First Baptist Church of Picayune, 401 Goodyear Blvd.
· Roseland Park Elementary, 2130 U.S. 11 North, Picayune
· First Baptist Church of Poplarville, 203 S. Main St.
· Poplarville Middle School, 1375 S. Maini St.
· First Baptist Church, Goodyear Blvd., Picayune
· Poplarville Middle School, 1375 S. Main, Poplarville
· First Baptist Church, N. Main, Poplarville
Copiah County Shelters include:
· Copiah - Hopewell Baptist Church, Hwy. 27 between Georgetown and Crystal Springs
Panola County Shelters include:
· Batesville First Baptist Church, 104 Panola St., Batesville
Franklin County Shelters include:
· Siloam Baptist Church, 8031 Hwy. 98 E., Meadville
· Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, 1871 Pleasant Valley Rd., Meadville
· Bude Baptist Church, Hwy. 84 W., Bude
· Praise Cathedral, 940 Hwy. 556, Meadville
Hinds County Shelters include:
· Utica United Methodist Church, 315 Main St., Utica
· Utica Baptist Church, 220 Main St., Utica
Yalobusha County Shelters include:
· First United Methodist, 603 N. Main St., Watervalley
Carroll County Shelters include:
· N. Carrolton Baptist Church, Hwy 35, Carrollton
Montgomery County Shelters include:
· First Baptist Church, 309 Summit, Winona
Pike County Shelters include:
· Church of Christ, 1111 Parklane Road, McComb

More information on shelters is available from the Harrison County Emergency Operations Center at (228) 865-4127 and (228) 865-1642.

Road closings 

The list is short now, but should grow as the storm moves inland. In Gulfport, Lorraine Road at Jig's Fishing Camp is now closed due to flooding. There are also a couple of small streets in low-lying areas of Pass Christian that are unpassable.

Harrison County news releases 

The official Harrison County Web site has the latest releases from Civil Defense on its front page.

Harrison County shelter updates 

Officials at the Harrison County Emergency Operations Center say official shelters in the area are up to 23 percent capacity. There are more than 3,100 people in the 17 official shelters.

Sen. Lott coordinates 

In a press release from Washington, Senator Trent Lott said he's coordinating with Gov. Haley Barbour and state and local agencies to speed disaster assistance response after initial damage assessments are made.

"As a Pascagoula resident I know all too well the deadly and damaging effects of a hurricane, and it's apparent that Ivan poses one of the most troubling natural threats our state has seen since the catastrophic devastation of Hurricane Camille 35 years ago," Senator Lott said in the release.

Casino question 

Heather Baker from Texas asks:

My in-laws are in Gulfport and we visited last week. We talked about it while we were there, but didn't really come to any real conclusions, so maybe you can answer for me. What do the casinos do in the case of a hurricane and storm surges? How high does it have to get before they are in trouble? I know everything is closed, but I haven't found anything that says what they do to prepare (other than getting all the money out of course!).

First off, here's our story about the casino closings. There was another story earlier in the week about the casinos' plans.

They're kind of in the same boat as everybody else. The closer you are to the beach, the worse it is. Being on the water means the casinos also have to endure the increased tides and wave action. This storm is certainly of a magnitude that would do significant damage to them if it hits close enough. That'll be one of the things we'll be keeping a close eye on at The Sun Herald.

More families around the U.S. 

This comes from Robert Fiske at Robins AFB in Georgia:

I am one of the unfortunate people who were unable to get down the road to evacuate my parents who live in the mandatory evacuation zone south of U.S. 90 in Ocean Springs. The one good thing is their home on the coast survived Camille's direct hit unscathed -- it's going for two! They did get boarded up, however, for safety and decided to stay put. I have no question had they left they would be worse off safety-wise. Dad can safely drive to the store in good weather conditions in the day; mom isn't very far ahead. Mom's not scared, however, she doesn't know what she is in for, Dad does. Dad traveled through a Category 5 in the middle of the Atlantic onboard a Liberty ship that started to break in half! The winds are down (relatively speaking), approaching nightfall, and should be on the good side of the eye, if such a place exists. In any case, I expect to be down this weekend helping clean up one of the best, most friendly, and neighborly parts of our country. See you Saturday.

P.S. Worried, no. Concerned, yes.

One shrimp boat down 

As expected with the storm heading in to the east of us, winds are generally from the north right now. It's still only drizzling in downtown Gulfport, but the waters being pushed forward by Hurricane Ivan are having an effect. Law enforcement officers in the Emergency Operations Center say one shrimp boat in Pass Christian Harbor has sunk, apparently because the mooring lines weren't loosened properly.

Hunkering down 

...for more Web traffic. Jay Losset from Jackson reports:

the jackson free press ( just put a link to your blog front and center on their site. i grew up in gautier and now live in jackson. my parents just built on the water and are understandably worried. i've been at work, trying to find updated info on the internet, and really couldn't. until i found your blog. i'm forwarding the link to tons of friends and coworkers. prepare for some more traffic.
stay safe, and thanks a bunch.

Bring it on, will do and you're welcome.

[This officially marks the end of a self-serving, pat-on-the-back post. Please carry on.]

Jackson County shelters over capacity 

From Margaret Baker in Jackson County:

The three Red Cross approved shelters in Jackson County were over capacity by 2 p.m. today, though emergency management officials said they weren't turning anyone away.

An estimated 1,200 residents were in the three shelters approved for safety by the Red Cross. Joanne Anderson, public information officer at the Emergency Operations Center, said 400-plus evacuees were at East Central High School, with more than 500 more at Vancleave High School and more than 200 at St. Martin East Elementary School in Ocean Springs.

"That is pretty heavy use of the shelter," Anderson said. "The shelters are being heavily utilized and these are good numbers. I think people who were ... in Mobile and low-lying areas thought about going to a shelter rather than go somewhere. This is a very dangerous storm. That accounts for the heavy use of the shelter."

In addition, a dozen military police from the Army National Guard have been brought in to assist the Jackson County Sheriff's Department in the field.

"We have our full contingency activated," she added. "We're kinda in a hunkered down mode now."

Once the storm passes, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd has advised that only those residents with identification would be allowed in the area. The sheriff issued the order in an effort to prevent looting at any homes affected by the hurricane.

"Those residents should be prepared to show identification, and not consider it to be an inconvenience," Anderson said.

Mississippi Public Broadcasting info 

From Jackson, Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s statewide network of radio stations has started extended coverage of Hurricane Ivan. MPB news, public affairs and radio staff will provided the latest weather and emergency preparedness and response information from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. - until as Hurricane Ivan approaches the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Mississippi Public Broadcasting Radio can be heard on the following frequencies:
WMAH 90.3 FM Biloxi
WMAE 89.5 FM Booneville
WMAU 88.9 FM Bude
WMAO 90.9 FM Greenwood
WMPN 91.3 FM Jackson
WMAW 88.1 FM Meridian
WMAB 89.9 FM Mississippi State
WMAV 90.3 FM Oxford-University

You can also listen via the web to MPB Radio at

Driving and skimming 

Two reports from Sun Herald staffers, the first from Pam Firmin:

Pam and her family left South Mississippi heading north about 10 a.m. Wednesday and got to Columbia -- normally about an hour's drive away -- in about 3.5 hours. All roads north are still heavily congested as residents continue to evacuate and Ivan gets closer.

The Firmins chose to return to the Coast, rather than get caught on the road.

This comes from Kate Magandy:

Despite a mandatory evacuation south of Interstate 10 for Harrison County, sightseers still chose to brave the weather and law enforcement officials and head to the beach.

Three carloads of teenagers were seen on the beach near the Mississippi Coast Coliseum skimboarding. Earlier, there were swimmers taking advantage of high tides and rolling waves.

The fun was short-lived, as a Gulfport patrol car pulled into a parking bay to send the beachgoers on their way.

Flood warning: Escatawpa River 

More from Margaret Baker:

A flood warning has been issued for the Escatawpa River near the Orange Grove community east of Moss Point.

Joanne Anderson, public information officer at the Emergency Operations Center in Pascagoula, said that the river is expected to rise above the 8-feet flood level by 7 p.m. tonight. The river is forecast to crest at 8.5 feet at 7 a.m. Thursday.

Anderson said the latest advisory indicated that flooding will occur along U.S. 90, from Orange Grove to Moss Point, with businesses and structures threatened.

Pascagoula scene 

The aforementioned Maragaret Baker also reports:

Waves started picking up by 11 a.m. Wednesday in Pascagoula, with water starting to seep over the seawall onto Beach Boulevard. Sand and some debris was starting to collect on the beachfront road, with strengthing winds already peeling back the shingles atop a gazebo at the foot of a pier.

Some residents continued to stay in the area, many riding along Beach Boulevard to check out the rising waters.

A few businessowners spent some of the morning making last-ditch efforts to board up their buildings.

Moss Point curfew, shelters 

Margaret Baker, on of The Sun Herald's Jackson County reporters sends in this brief:

Moss Point city officials have issued a mandatory curfew from 6 p.m. tonight until 6 a.m. Thursday.

Police want residents in low-lying areas to seek shelter immediately in one of the approved shelter sites at: East Central High School, 21700 Slider Road, Hurley; St. Martin East Elementary School, 7508 Rose Farm Road, Ocean Springs; and Vancleave High School, 12412 Mississippi 57, Vancleave.

Moss Point High School opened Wednesday as an alternative site for people simply trying to get out of the weather. The shelter is not an approved shelter so residents should bring their own hurricane supplies.

Did I leave the stove on? 

Ayesha Kennedy sends in an e-mail relating something I'm sure a lot of evacuees are dealing with, that nagging feeling something's been left undone.

I'm a nervous wreck! This is my first up close and personal hurricane. I lived in Baton Rouge, La., for the last four years up until June and now I live in Biloxi. I left my apartment at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning for Baton Rouge and made it in 2 hours cause the roads weren't congested yet. In my attempt to get the heck outta Dodge, I haven't been able to stop thinking if I left my apartment door unlocked. This situation makes me feel so helpless as I can't do a thing about an unlocked door from here but at least I have your updates to keep me somewhat sane. I'll be looking forward to your bits of information as the days go by so I'll know when it's safe to come back, most likely in a swarm of traffic this time. Keep up the good work.

I can't check on your door but will continue to do what I can. Thanks for reading.

New York checks in 

From Pam Conboy in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.:

I can't explain why I feel close to you all down there, but I do. My husband and I have spent only one vacation in Diamondhead and will be retiring there in a couple of years. We loved your state (some day to be our adopted state) and the friendliness of the people.

I just wanted to thank the Sun Herald for the information and to say that we are praying for your safety and will continue to do so. I guess it's impossible at this late hour to hope that IVAN will pass you and we can only hope and pray that the damage will be as minimal as possible and that everyone receives the help they need in the fastest manner possible.

God be with you all.

Pam and Len Conboy

Thanks for the kind thoughts and we'll still be here to welcome you when this passes.

Price gouging 

The state attorney general's office has set up it's hotline to report price gouging. The consumer protection division can be reached at (800) 281-1192.

Harrison County update 

Harrison County Civil Defense Director Linda Rouse just briefed the media in the lobby of the county courthouse. She said, as of 1 p.m., Hurricane Ivan was located at 27.8N, 82.2W and has sustained winds of 135 mpg. A hurricane warning remains in effect from Grand Isle, La., to Apalachicola, Fla. The storm is expected to continue moving to the north at 14 mph for the next 24 hours, with the eye likely passing through Mobile Bay early Thursday morning. Ivan is currently a Category 4 storm, although it could weaken to Category 3 -- still a major hurricane.

Flooding concerns
Rouse said Harrison County could see a storm surge in the 10-15 foot range. She said the expected 10 inches of rainfall could be "devastating" for the area. The county has a regular call-out list to about 130 residences on the Wolf, Biloxi and Tchoutacabouffa rivers where flooding normally happens. When they activated it this morning, they still had 34 live responses. She said Henderson Point (western tip of Harrison County) is already seeing flooding.

Traffic issues
State officials estimated 75,000 vehicles headed north on the four major highways Tuesday. Travel times yesterday were four times and more longer than usual. There is still some congestion on those highways. Signs on the highways are directing the public to which Mississippi Public Broadcasting station can be monitored on the trip out.

Shelters filling up
Harrison County has 17 official shelters opened, filled to 18 percent capacity at last check. There were 2,548 people in shelters. They sent out a request for nurses, EMTs and other qualified medical personnel to volunteer in the shelters. They can contact (228) 897-1192. Nurses from the state Department of Health are in shelters for the first time, with an additional contingent from West Point. There have been 44 mutual aid ambulance report to the area from throughout the state. Harrison County Supervisor Connie Rockco said that shelters are opening Hattiesburg and Jackson to help house folks who have evacuated to find no hotels available.

Typical warnings
The standard warnings encouraging people to stay off the roads was issued. There is a curfew in Harrison County and all its cities from 7 p.m. Wednesday until 7 a.m. Thursday. Traffic lights on U.S. 90 have been switched to flashing modes after the crews removed the control circuitry to prevent damage.

Weather update 

I've shifted my setup from home to just outside the Emergency Operations Center in the Harrison County courthouse in downtown Gulfport. They have us media types in the Board Room where the board of supervisors meet. I can see a sliver of outdoors from where I sit, through a gap in the boarding on the windows. It's not blowing too hard, but we're getting our first sprinkles outside.

I'll try to keep you updated with what's going on outside. I've found a place where I can get wind readings and local conditions. Once it gets interesting, I'll post here. At least I will as long as my dial-up internet connection survives.

-- posted by Don Hammack

Harrison County update soon 

We are waiting for an update from the folks at Civil Defense which is supposed to start at 1 p.m. This blog will have the information shortly.

Another sign 

The last post reminds me of something I saw last night on my way home from work. There's a good Mexican restaurant on the beach on the eastern part of downtown Gulfport. On the boards over the front door, they'd spray painted "VIVA EL MAGUEY" and the standard numbering scheme existed on the others for ease of reinstallation (of course, the numbers read "UNO," "DOS," "TRES"...) There was a standard "GOD BE WITH US" sign across one window, but the one next to it had the punch line: GO HOME IVAN -- NO TACOS FOR YOU.

Lucedale checking in 

Kay Grafe, a Sun Herald freelancer, sends the following about Lucedale. It's located in George County, which is the eastern-most county on the second tier of three that make up South Mississippi.

Radio Shack in down town Lucedale that has plywood covered windows with a written message "GO AWAY IVAN." LUCEDALE was basically closed down by 9:00 this a.m.

What about the garbage? 

Kay Albritton from out in Orange Grove wants to know about area garbage service:

I was trying to find out the schedule for BFI. I see alot of my neighbors trash cans out already this morning. Today (Wed) is our regular pick up day. Tried calling BFI all morning but busy lines.

We don't know what to tell you. We've been trying to get through to BFI since Tuesday, with no luck. Maybe somebody there will read the blog and give us a shout.

Old friends check in 

This is from some of my old friends who have many friends on the Coast from their days with the local minor league hockey team. They now live in Sweden.

We just wanted you to know that even though we are physically far away from you all we do keep you close in our thoughts, and wish you all the best before the storm.
We follow the updates online (of course yours as well) and on CNN, we really wish and hope that you will all get out of this with as little damage as possible -- it is so sad, thinking that what was once our home is about to be "attacked" in such a horrible way. We hope you are all safe and that we will be able to see that you got through this and able to return to your homes soon.

We miss you all - Keeping you in our thoughts - Be safe

With Love from,
Ulrica - Emma & Doogie

Thanks, guys.

Don Hammack

Don Hammack is a staff writer for the Sun Herald. He can be reached at or
 Latest posts

   •  Shutting down
   •  Popp's Ferry Bridge
   •  Gulf Coast Medical Center to re-open shortly
   •  Pass High in the house
   •  Harrison County neighborhoods, etc.
   •  Another casino question
   •  Friendship Oak
   •  Former local media celebrity checks in
   •  Well wishes and casino questions
   •  Riding out the storm and schools question

   •  September 2004

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