Meridian Star

October 4, 2013

South Mississippi Ramps Up Preparations As Tropical Storm Karen Slows


Associated Press

BILOXI —

Tropical Storm Karen has slowed according to the most recent weather alerts, but Coast authorities are still ramping up their storm preparations.

Friday morning Pascagoula Mayor Harry Blevins issued a declaration of emergency withKaren continuing to move north through the Gulf of Mexico.

Blevins declared that "the city shall exercise all powers and authority granted to it under the Mississippi Emergency Management Law to deal with such emergency."

A release from Biloxi said council members are also expected to follow suit when they meet at 9:30 a.m.

Hurry up and wait

Harrison County Director of Emergency Management Rupert Lacy said they're taking a hurry up and wait approach to the storm and have a meeting scheduled for 11 a.m. to update authorities on the status of the storm.

"It has slowed down and that's always something that bothers us because that gives it the opportunity to regenerate and shows a changing of track," he said. "The wildcard of this storm is we've got to see where the cold front is. If the cold front gets here quicker it could push it off to the east. If it doesn't, that means it has an opportunity to sit down there and do its thing and then we're not really sure what's going on."

In preparation, Lacy said they have self-serve sandbag locations set up in Gulfport and at various public works departments in the county.

"We're just watching (the storm) and just trying to keep an eye on it," he said. "Just hurrying up and waiting."

Ocean Springs Harbormaster Bill Richmond said no boaters have been told to evacuate and like Harrison County officials, they're still taking a wait and see approach.

"No boaters are being told to relocate at this time," he said.

Waiting and hoping

A group of charter boat captains sat at the edge of the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor on Friday morning talking amongst themselves as they waited for updates on the storm.

"We're just waiting for the next report to see what's going to happen," said Kenny Barhanovich, captain of the Miss Hospitality.

Depending on what the storm does, the captains may move their boats to an area of the Tchoutacabouffa river known as the "hurricane hole."

Barhanovich said they would go there "if we got to."

Bobby Williams of Biloxi and captain of the Three Sons, added "we're praying we don't have to."

Boaters at the Point Cadet Harbor said they are waiting to hear from the city after the morning meeting. They're expecting to be told by 10:30 a.m. whether or not to evacuate.

Other preparations

Biloxi has began to remove barricades for Cruisin' The Coast as a preparation. Police have also notified RV owners parked along U.S. 90 that winds are expected to increase during the weekend.

"We've had about a dozen and a half RVs set up along Highway 90 in anticipation of Cruisin' the Coast kicking off Sunday," Biloxi Emergency Manager Milton Houseman said in a release. "Right now, we're just letting them know about the threatening weather. We may reach a point where we need to be a little sterner in our warning. We're continuing to monitor the weather, and we'll take action as necessary Friday morning, based on the latest weather forecasts."