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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

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

Don Hammack

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