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Eyes on Katrina

A South Mississippi hurricane journal

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Glowing words 

Lisa Stroup in Western Kentucky e-mails: To Sun Herald staff: I cannot thank you enough; I am tired of CNN but still glued. I finally found your web postings and doubt I will ever sleep tonight. We have friends that we cannot reach; an elderly couple in Gulfport and this is our only hope to date. Praying that someone will tell us they know them and that they are safe. My family made our first trip to Gulfport and Biloxi Memorial Day 2004; your paper featured my dad and Mr. Hunter on the anniversary of D-Day. They were reuniting for the first time since WWII. I took my father and 7 yr old son and took in the wonderful sights of your area. Stayed at the fine little Biloxi Beach Motel, climbed in the branches of the Friendship Oak, watched the bananas being loaded while at the dolphin show, even had a comp dinner at the Grand Casino. Our memories will last a lifetime. My little boy has kept you all in his prayers this week, from our friends to the residents we don't know, to the owners of the Olive Garden we ate at, to the dolphins that he thinks swam free during the storm. My prayers are with you all; what fine people and deserving of God's grace and mercy. Thank you to the staff of the Sun Herald for providing us all across the country to feel connected to you there. Wish we could do more to help. I'm speechless.

Pearlington isn't forgotten 

Ben Caruso in Houston, Texas, e-mails: You guys at the Sun Herald are awesome. Amazing tenacity to get the news out. Any ideas on how I can get information on Pearlington? Every area local news station from the Coast to Jackson to national news have bypassed coverage on Pearlington. I know it's not a metropolis, but I've seen quite a few inquiries on other blogs, but no results. Any ideas? MS DOT tells me I can't enter the area for another 1 or 2 weeks. I've even given CNN a story idea for the forgotten little town in Hancock County. Thanks for the kind words. I can assure you we haven't forgotten about Pearlington. We're trying to expand our coverage areas every day, moving out as recovery crews keep expanding their reach by clearing the way. I know it's frustrating for people, but we won't forget about anybody. Please bear with us and we'll do our best.

Returning to work 

Todd writes from Columbus, Ga., where he and his family evacuated to before the storm: It's heartbreaking to see what the Coast is going through, but I'm so glad you guys are posting online, so those of us who did leave can keep up with what's happening on the Coast. Question: My mother works for Memorial Hospital and my brother works for Wal-Mart in Pass Chritian. I know that both places have sustained heavy damage. I was wondering if there was a number that they could call to let their respective businesses know where they're at and when they need to report for work. Thank you for all that you're doing and keep up the great work! For Memorial Hospital, I'd keep trying to call their numbers until phone service returns. We don't know for sure when that will be, but let them know periodically. For Wal-Mart, I'd recommend going to the Wal-Mart in your area and asking for a manager. See if perhaps there's a corporate headquarters phone number you can call to see what they might have set up.

Wanting to help 

Tony Munoz in Wyoming, Mich., represents the efforts of a church there wanting to bring supplies to the Coast. Wednesday, Harrison County officials asked that you contact them first before coming down, because there may be advantages to stretching out delivery of supplies. If you remember after 9/11, there were a lot of supplies that went bad because they couldn't be used, but would have been better put to use in the following weeks. They want you to call (228) 865-4002. That number won't work right now, probably, but keep trying periodically and let them know what you'd like to do. You should also not forget about Hancock and Jackson counties either, and they should be able to direct you to help out there. We all appreciate it.

I'm OK Line online 

Eric and Melissa Istre ask if our "I'm OK Line" lists are online. That was originally the idea, but it looks like it's not happening. We'll get that fixed as soon as we can.

Where to post your search requests 

The next couple of e-mails are ones I'm sure we'll be getting lots of in the coming hours and days. We've got a request from Larry Cotton in Lawton, Okla., for Robert Bass and family to contact him at (580) 284-0388, and one from John Downer, looking for information on Harold (Jack) Spurlock from Moss Point, who may be at the Moss Point High School shelter. John says our "I'm OK Line" has been busy all day, which is to be expected given the massive scope of this disaster. The Sun Herald has a message board for folks to post this sort of information. I'm just now seeing it, and it looks like an amazing tool for you to use with lots of activity. Wow. Great job, folks. This is doing a much faster job of anything I could ever hope to do, especially on a slow dial-up connection. (One other tip for Jack: Check with your local American Red Cross chapter, and see if you can send a health and welfare request to that shelter through them. They may have ways to get information from that shelter through other channels, like amateur radio operators.)

Historic first post back 

This is historic on so many levels. After being offline for 30-something hours, the first e-mail we got is from Ken in Ocean Springs: I'm not sure if this is the avenue for this but, I need you to hold delivery of my paper until further notice. I am at (house number deleted to protect privacy) Woody Circle in Ocean Springs. Thank you, Ken I know this is completely inappropriate, but as someone who's also lost a home, I found one of my first laughs in a couple days because of this post. I hadn't thought to have my delivery service suspended; it just never occured to me. Don't worry, Ken. We won't be delivering until we can get around a litle easier. I'll pass along your info to our circulation department just to make sure. Thanks for subscribing, and we'll be ready to give you your papers on your front yard when you are.

Here we go 

OK, you can look to the right to see the new e-mail address. It's Remember, we encourage you to use our toll-free "I'm OK Line" at (866) 453-1925 to track relatives and loved ones. You can leave a message and we'll run them each day in our paper. Our Wednesday paper arrived at about noon and we distributed 20,000 copies by a variety of means. Employees from every part of our paper -- circulation, pressmen, advertising, operations, business office and newsroom -- were handing out papers at the water giveaways, cantinas, shelters, intersections and even the old fashioned way, throwing them on yards, all for free. Thursday, we'll be distributing 25,000 by all those methods, plus others, including through the American Red Cross to their shelters and support sites. Friends point out my cynicism at times, but I've never been prouder to work at the Sun Herald than right now. We've done great work, and the support we've gotten from the Miami Herald, Charlotte Observer, Macon (Ga.) Telegraph, St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press, Bradenton (Fla.) Herald and the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News has helped us put out two of the best papers you'll ever see. More help is on the way from our Knight-Ridder sister papers, and we'll keep trying our best. You deserve it.

Back online 

This is Don Hammack at the Sun Herald offices on the Gulfport/Biloxi border. Our landlines have just come back on, although we are only able to dial outside the 228 area code. We're dialed up through an AOL number in Starkville. Stand by for an updated e-mail address to send comments or information to. My work account was forwarded to a local ISP, and it's not showing up on the Internet anymore. Bear with us, and we'll be back soon. The Bloginator

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Communications are down 

Communications to the Biloxi area are down -- phone, e-mail, Internet .... These connectivity issues are what have kept Don Hammack and Geoff Pender from updating this blog. If you work for The Sun Herald, please contact the paper to let us know where you are. As we know the news, we will post it to We're in this with you for the long haul.


From Sun Herald reporter Margaret Baker: Maj. Rodney McGilverry of Biloxi PD said early Tuesday that between 35 and 40 people are believed to have died in that city, with the number expected to rise as search efforts continue. He said the real search and rescue efforts started today because there wasn't much sunlight left after the storm subsided Monday afternoon. The east end of the city has suffered massive damage, with almost total devastation reported primarily south of the railroad tracks near Lee Street, Point Cadet and Casino Row. McGilverry debunked reports of 30 deaths at a single apartment complex in Biloxi. He said initial reports that included successful rescues were merged with actual fatalities.

Working on aerial photos 

We're trying to get aerial photos of the Coast and areas inland to show people the damage. At the moment, airspace is restricted because of ongoing rescue operations, but we are trying to get those done soon.

Our main Katrina story 

By ANITA LEE, DON HAMMACK AND SCOTT DODD BILOXI - The Gulf Coast woke this morning to devastation not seen since Camille 36 years ago. Hurricane Katrina, a massive Category 4 storm, trashed entire cities and left hundreds missing or dead. South Mississippi bore the brunt of the powerful lashing, which shattered multi-million dollar casinos, buried Biloxi's beach highway and killed at least 50 people in Harrison County alone. "This," said Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway, "is our tsunami." Gov. Haley Barbour said on TV this morning that the death toll in Harrison might be as high as 80. Many died on Point Cadet, at the southeastern tip of Biloxi's peninsula, officials said. Bodies were being recovered late into the night, and a portable morgue was being brought in to handle the dead. Authorities feared some may have been washed away, never to be found. "We'll be trying to determine a total fatality count," weary Assistant Police Chief Rodney McGilvary said early this morning, "if we ever have one." Mississippi fared so badly because it stood east of Katrina's eyewall, in the segment of the storm that packs the most powerful gusts and raging waves. With phones out, power gone and roads demolished, even emergency officials could get only a rough look at the devastation. But it was clear as the sun came up today that southern Mississippi had suffered billions of dollars in damage and would take months, if not years, to recover. Katrina's tidal surge - over 30 feet in spots -- demolished major bridges to three coastal counties, including those linking Biloxi with Ocean Springs and the connection to Bay St. Louis. The storm swept sailboats onto city streets in Gulfport and obliterated hundreds of waterfront homes, businesses, community landmarks and condominiums. The concrete Eight Flags display marking the Gulfport-Biloxi boundary -- a signature of both coastal communities -- was gone. Hancock and Jackson counties fared no better. A foot of water swamped the emergency operations center at the Hancock County courthouse -- which sits 30 feet above sea level. The back of the courthouse collapsed under the onslaught. "Thirty-five people swam out of their emergency operations center with life jackets on," neighboring Harrison County emergency medical services director Christopher Cirillo said Monday. "We haven't heard from them." Jackson County's emergency operations center also disintegrated as Katrina raged ashore. The roof was peeling off by 7:30 a.m., forcing officials to evacuate to the courthouse across the street. Hundreds of Katrina's victims needed medical attention, but it was hard to give. Cirillo said three local hospitals could accept only the worst emergency patients, so officials set up medical triage stations at the Biloxi High School, a fire station on Pass Road and other spots. They urged the walking wounded to go there. Memorial Hospital suffered some damage, but no injuries to patients or staff. It and Biloxi Regional had the only functional emergency rooms in Harrison County. Cirillo said they had seen lots of cuts, broken bones, electrocution from downed power lines and breathing difficulties from the stifling heat. Looting was already a major problem as the wind subsided and darkness fell Monday. A furious Harrison County Sheriff George Payne was heard on the police scanner telling his deputies to make room in the jail for thieves. They scoured broken homes and businesses for cars, radios, liquor, furniture, generators and anything else they could find. Officials sent two hundred military police from Camp Shelby to help maintain order and enforce curfews, which remain in effect in most coastal communities. Georgia, Alabama, Texas and Florida sent 35 ambulances to help, more than doubling American Medical Response's normal fleet of 32 - seven of which were lost in the storm. Katrina will forever be compared to Hurricane Camille, the powerful Aug. 17, 1969, storm that cost the Mississippi Coast 144 lives and more than $6.5 billion in property damage in today's dollars. A revitalized and growing Mississippi Coast had even more to lose. In Biloxi, the mayor said, the storm's surge put at least five casinos out of commission. Grand Casino Biloxi washed across U.S. 90. Treasure Bay's pirate ship was beached. Beau Rivage still stood, while Hard Rock Casino -- scheduled to open in early September - was half destroyed. Hard Rock's signature guitar, touted as the world's largest, survived the lashing. In Gulfport, the Copa Casino barge sat on land next to the Grand Casino parking garage. The western Grand Casino barge, containing Kid's Quest, was swept around the west side of the hotel and now blocks U.S. 90. Katrina shattered high-water marks set by Camille, pushing surf, sand and debris higher than anyone alive today can remember. In Gulfport, water washed over the CSX railroad tracks, a line old-timers say Camille did not cross. U.S. 90, the main road through all the coast's oceanfront communities, was buried under inches and even feet of sand in some sections, leaving questions about how the region's road network will recover. "Highway 90 is destroyed, " said Holloway, Biloxi's mayor. "I saw a disaster. Water did not get this high for Camille." Stories of narrow survival were everywhere. Jean Jenkins of Moss Point spent nearly seven hours crouched in her small attic with her husband, two dogs and a cat before her son-in-law could rescue her. He had to come by boat. "It was horrible," Jenkins said. "Horrible, horrible, horrible." Jenkins said she's lived in her house for 29 years. She didn't evacuate because she'd never seen the water rise so high. Monday morning, it came in fast and furious as Katrina raged ashore, giving Jenkins and her husband no escape but the attic. When she finally embraced her daughter after the long ordeal, Jenkins said she'd lost everything. "We've got nothing left." "You've got you," daughter Bonnie Cothran replied. In neighborhoods throughout Biloxi and Gulfport, shell-shocked residents burst into tears and embraced, consoling one another over the devastation. Brothers Jesus and David Diaz walked up Biloxi's St. Charles Avenue in a daze. "What are you looking for?" they were asked. One brother replied: "Our house." Like many others, they may never find it again. STAFF WRITERS JOSHUA NORMAN AND MARGARET BAKER AND KNIGHT RIDDER STAFF WRITERS BRYAN MONROE AND MIKE McQUEEN CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.

Keesler AFB/Seabee base updates 

Lt. Shinka, the Seabee base representative at Harrison County's EOC, said there was some damage on the base, but nothing significant. Fences were down, and there was some water damage. Something like 6-8 buildings had roofing damage. They're on backup generators. Biloxi mayor A.J. Holloway said yesterday afternoon that Keesler looked like it was in pretty good shape on his drive-thru to get west to us. Nothing more specific, but no news is definitely good news in this case.

Bay St. Louis and Waveland 

Pearl P. writes: I'm in Dallas, but I talked to my daughter who is there. Total destruction from the Bay Bridge to St. Stanislaus. She also said Coleman Ave. and Nicholson Ave. suffered mass destruction. Lost communication, but this is the last I heard. Our prayers are with everyone back home. Haven't heard from daughters, Melanie D. or Donna B. Please contact us if at all possible.

I'm OK Line 

The Sun Herald is setting up an "I'm OK Line" for folks who left the area to phone in and let their relatives know where they evacuated to. It's a toll free number and the information will be printed in the paper and posted online. You can call (866) 453-1925.

Requests and what we can give 

We're still receiving massive amounts of e-mails from folks looking for information on very specific locations, people, etc. We will struggle to do this because of manpower limitiations, but we will try to paint broad pictures for you. We're getting lots of requests for Long Beach and Pass Christian information. Here's what I've got right now, and it's not much because there's no communication there and emergency personnel haven't been able to make their way very far into Pass Christian. Hancock County is largely unknown ground at this point. I've posted stuff from the first foray by National Guardsmen into Pass Christian. The southern area of Diamondhead below Interstate 10 has been heavily damaged.

Long Beach/Pass Christian 

By DON HAMMACK SUN HERALD Staff Sgt. John Freeman led his detachment of the 890th Engineering Battalion in an effort to get into Pass Christian once the storm subsided Monday afternoon. He wasn’t sure exactly where he was going, with the Purvis residence not having much local knowledge. "We’ve just got a county map," Freeman said. "We hunt-and-peck until we get there." They made it down Railroad Street in Long Beach, turning up Beatline Road through some localized flooding at the 90-degree turn. They went up to the Industrial Park, cut across to Espy Avenue and started back south. They made it to Second Street, where they found a house in the middle of the road. They didn’t make it far down the road when the were flagged down by folks directing them to two American Medical Response EMTs. They’d lost their vehicle to the water and were walking out when they ran into a rescue opportunity. A man jumped out of his second-story, but was trapped by his house when it collapsed. The EMTs got the man out, took him to a neighbor’s house and treated him for a collapsed lung. The Guard realized they weren’t going to get much farther with darkness setting in, so they packed up the patient and EMTs and met up with another ambulance to get the patient evacuated. "We’re going back in there with the big equipment today," said Freeman.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Main Katrina story for tomorrow 

By ANITA LEE, DON HAMMACK, JOSHUA NORMAN, AND MARGARET BAKER SUN HERALD BILOXI — Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Coast Monday with a force not seen since Camille 36 years ago, sweeping aside multimillion-dollar casinos, burying the beach highway and killing at least 50 people in Harrison County. “This,” said Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway, “is our tsunami. “ At least 50 people are confirmed dead in Gulfport and Biloxi. Katrina raged ashore in Mississippi at dawn and terrorized the Coast until winds subsided after 3 p.m., leaving massive damage in her wake. Monday night, communications were down and transportation systems demolished. Katrina also crippled medical services. Beleaguered emergency personnel awaited reinforcements from the federal government and other states to shore up assistance. “We are still in the search and rescue mode,” Holloway said. It will be days before the costs of Katrina, in lives and property,  are known. Katrina’s tidal surge swept away bridges that had linked the three Coast counties. Along the waterfront, the storm surge obliterated businesses, homes, community landmarks and condominiums.  It swept away the concrete Eight Flags display marking the Gulfport-Biloxi boundary on the beach. Countless treasures washed from homes joining streams of debris that settled 5 feet high on residential streets off the beach. New sets of stairs to nowhere joined those Camille left when she washed away waterfront mansions  on Aug. 17, 1969. Katrina will forever be compared to Camille in many ways. Camille cost the Coast 144 lives and over $6.5 billion in property damage in current dollars.. A revitalized and growing Mississippi Coast had even more to lose. In Biloxi, Holloway said at least five casinos are out of commission. Grand Casino Biloxi washed across U.S. 90 to the west. Treasure Bay’s pirate ship was beached. At least three other casinos were out of commission, Holloway said. Beau Rivage still stood, while Hard Rock Casino, scheduled to open in early September, suffered 50 percent damages. The signature guitar, said to be the world’s largest, still stood. “Highway 90 is destroyed, “ said Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway. . “It’s something like I’ve never seen before. I saw  a disaster. Water did not get this high for Camille.” Most of the residents who lost their lives were  on Point Cadet,  at the southeastern tip of Biloxi’s peninsula. In Gulfport, the storm surge crossed the CSX railroad tracks, a line oldtimers say Camille did not cross. Hancock and Jackson counties didn’t fare any better. Communications were all but severed during Katrina. Before telephone  contact  was lost Monday morning, Hancock County officials reported that a foot of water swamped their Emergency Operations Center, which sits 30 feet above sea level. The back of the Hancock County courthouse, where the center is located, gave way. “Thirty-five people  swam out of their Emergency Operations Center  with life jackets  on,” said Christopher Cirillo,  Harrison County’s Emergency Medical Services  director. “We haven’t heard from them. The only person we can raise on the radio is the sheriff in his car.” Jackson County’s Emergency Operations Center  also began to disintegrate shortly after  Katrina  raged ashore. The roof was peeling off by 7:30 a.m., forcing officials to evacuate to the courthouse across the street. As soon as the wind subsided, looters struck. They stole cars, radios, liquor,  furniture, generators and anything else they could fine. A furious Harrison County sheriff, George Payne, was heard on the police scanner telling his deputies to make room in the jail. In neighborhoods, shell-shocked residents burst into tears  and embraced, consoling one another over the devastation. The atmosphere, at  times, was surreal. Brothers Jesus and David Diaz walked up Biloxi’s St. Charles Avenue in a daze. “What are you looking for?” they were asked. One of them said, “Our house.”

A survivor's tale 

A story I wrote for tomorrow: By DON HAMMACK GULFPORT – It must have seemed a completely plausible plan at the time to Mike Petro and his family. They lived at 1514 18th Avenue, just east of downtown, just off the beach, just south of the railroad tracks, right off Second Street. He and his wife Andrea, his 30-year-old son, twin 13-year-old daughters, a 6-year-old daughter, a dachshund and a cat thought they’d be able to beat Hurricane Katrina and leave town early Monday morning. Having disregarded mandatory evacuation orders, it nearly proved a fatal mistake in a neighborhood where a similar mistake was likely punished with death. When Katrina slammed into the Central Gulf Coast in the early morning hours, ruining what we like to call our little slice of heaven, the Petros’ power went out, interrupting their last-minute packing scheme. Then they heard the water, a strange rumbling train sound. Their house, more than 100 years old and not built on the cheap like modern ones, this one a good tongue-and-groove carpentry, began to be ripped apart at the seams. The family began to move for shelter, angling across the intersection one house north of their lot. Petro got knocked down by a piece of his house. It plunked him down on a slab of something, he said, while his wife and kids were being herded up the street by the storm surge. The rest of the family wound up pushed to another house on the east side of 18th. Mike Petro’s slab helped him make it up and across 18th Street, and he need the help. He’d had hip replacement surgery recently and he moved with a noticeable limp. "I was afraid for the kids," said Petro, his voice cracking for the first time. "You can beat the hell outta me…" As he stood on the listing porch that was two houses north of the intersection of 18th Avenue and Second Street, he nearly apologized for setting up shop in a neighbor’s severely damaged house, using a piece of debris as a cane. He said he was going to leave them a note of thanks. "I was scared to death by the end," he said. "But they weren’t," meaning the dachshund, which they’d managed to keep with them, and a cat that they hoped would be back after expending one-ninth of its allotment of good fortune. His wife joined him after he was interviewed, having crossed the street. Mike Petro sitting on the threshold to the borrowed house, she squatting in front of him. They grasped each other’s faces with two hands, sharing a moment they nearly robbed themselves of by poor decision making the night before. Around him, even as the back end of Katrina’s feeder bands continued to hack at the coastline, recovery had already begun. Two young Seabee who lived in the brick house just south of the railroad tracks were climbing over the piles of debris on 18th. There was a lot of debris, including a mess of maroon upholstered pews and the organ from St. Peter’s By the Sea was instead by the railroad tracks. The Episcopal church moved east several years ago when the Grand Casino purchased the old church proper with enough slot machine coin to build a beautiful new building, one that’s apparently been demolished. Also among the debris was the house just north of the Petro’s, and in it, apparently an 85-year-old woman and a younger man. They were in the house Sunday night, neighbors said, and Monday morning there was evidence of what had been, but only if you knew what there was when it started out. There was a perfectly clean, silver oxygen bottle, the green paint on it not so much as smudged as it lay among the pickup sticks wreckage underneath it, but with no hose to lead back to a possible victim. The Seabees crawled all over the place, hollering for survivors. They’d survived Katrina, with water up to their waists in the first floor of their brick rental. Petty Officer Third Class Jesse Good said he’d been the target of an insurgent mortar attack while stationed in the Middle East with NMCB 7. "I haven’t seen nothing like that in Iraq," said Good, 22. It didn’t appear there was much for them to hope for in their search. There was an ironic sign of hope among the wreckage. Lying on a sidewalk north of where the debris field began trailing off, lay a brightly colored, hand-painted, thin wooden plaque. It certainly had been attached to some kitchen wall someplace just 24 hours earlier. "If you’re lucky enough to live by the beach you’re lucky enough." It just didn’t seem too lucky Monday morning for the vast majority of South Mississippians. Mike Petro and his clan found a sliver, but there wasn’t much else.

Back online 

After being away from the Internet because of an almost total lost communications to the outside world, I'm back at the Sun Herald offices on the Gulfport-Biloxi border. Things are very bad here. I've gotten several hundred specific queries about friends, families and neighborhoods. I've told several people that it is easier to list the things that are undamaged than those that have been pounded. That's the honest truth. We've got significant loss of life, with around 40 dead in Biloxi alone. We're trying to glean other information from Coast municipalities and counties, but communications are brutal here at the moment. Shortly, we'll be posting some stories that will be appearing in tomorrow's edition, which will be printed in Columbus, Ga., and flown by helicopter for distribution as best we can in the area. Please bear with us while we try to pick ourselves up the mat.

Don't come back yet 

This from staff writer Geoff Pender, who is calling in reports from Hattiesburg. If you are thinking about getting in the car and coming back to South Mississippi, don't. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is telling people who have evacuated to stay away until the roads have been cleared and the National Guard is in place. If we get word when that happens, we'll pass it along. On a different note, we have a report that portions of U.S. 90 are under seven feet of water. Eye on Katrina front page

Putting it all together 

BY GEOFF PENDER and MICHAEL NEWSOME THE SUN HERALD Hurricane Katrina brought catastrophic damage from the Coast to Hattiesburg. Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said downtown buildings were ‘imploding’ or collapsing, particularly in the 19th street area. Coastwide there were reports of homes and buildings knocked off their foundations by storm surges as high as 28 feet. As of Monday afternoon, no fatalities had been reported in Mississippi, but even emergency communications were sporadic at best. Harrison County Civil Defense's command post lost power and communications early Monday, and emergency operations centers in Hancock and Jackson counties had to be evacuated and moved to higher ground. There were numerous reports of people stranded in attics or on roofs as the tidal surge and floowaters rose. At times, emergency crews were unable to go out in the heavy winds. Hospitals in the three Coast counties reported damage and problems in operations. Memorial Hospital at Gulfport reported major damage. The first floor of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport was flooded Monday morning and workers scrambled to move medicine and equipment to higher floors. There were reports of boats blown north of U.S. 90 in Gulfport. Numerous tornadoes were reported across South Mississippi. Beau Rivage reportedly has water up to its second floor. There was no word from the other casinos. Gov. Haley Barbour urged people to stay put during heavy winds and flooding, and until emergency officials give the all clear. “This is not a small storm, we have catastrophic damage on all levels.” he said. “Don't go running out into flood zones and getting bitten by snakes or wading through floodwaters that might be covering utility lines. Use good judgement in the aftermath.” Barbour said search and rescue operations are the first priority as Katrina subsides. Barbour and other officials had a harsh warning for those thinking of looting. “I've urged the highway patrol and national guard to treat looters ruthlessly,” Barbour said, “The rules of engagement will be as ruthless as the law allows.” Eye on Katrina front page

Latest information 

According to Staff Writer Geoff Pender, a number of businesses and homes have been damaged in the Hattiesburg area. The heavy winds are starting to hit there. U.S. 49 and Highway 11 are shut down. Also, Memorial Hospital at Gulfport has been heavily damaged. There are reports that all the hospitals in the Coast counties are reporting major difficulties. Gov. Haley Barbour and other officials have warned that looters will not be tolerated. "If you are in the business of theft, this might not be the time to play your trade," according to Harold Cross of the Mississippi National Guard. So far, there have been no confirmed reports of casualties. More than 180,000 people in South Mississippi are without power. Eye on Katrina front page

Interstate 10 impassable 

The Biloxi River is flowing over the bridge on Interstate 10, to what one observer guessed was perhaps 6 feet. There are also reports of containers from the Fayard moving company littering in the interstate just east of the I-10/U.S. 49 junction in Gulfport. Eye on Katrina front page

HC 9th Grade damage 

Reports from Harrison Central 9th Grade School in North Gulfport are that three of four walls there have collapsed. Rescue efforts are in progress. There were about 100 people sheltered there. Eye on Katrina front page

Hancock County 

This is not much, but the latest we've heard on Hancock: Major flooding all around St. Louis Bay. Eye on Katrina front page


Do you have any information on the condition of the casinos on the Gulf in Biloxi and Gulfport? My husband and I were consultants to one of the casino a few years back and the area holds a special place in our heart. We send our thoughts and prayers to our old friends and the community. Lydia in Annapolis Lydia, our last reports were not good... see below about Beau Rivage. Huge storm surge. Now 100 mph winds continuing. Eye on Katrina front page

Anything on Bay St Louis lately? Mom in a shelter there. Thank you for doing such a wonderful reporting job. You have been the only place I have been able to get up to date information. Thank you, Debbie Debbie, not much coming out of Bay/Hancock right now. As of about 11:30, we heard a report that they were getting clobbered by eye-wall winds. We'll update as soon as we hear anything. Eye on Katrina front page


I am hearing a lot of reports from Harrison County but not much from Hancock. Does anyone know anything about the damage to Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead, and other Hancock County areas? kbj Eye on Katrina front page

From Florida 

Greetings from South Florida ... Katrina just missed a direct hit to Pompano Beach but decided to head south through Miami. Our administrative offices are here in Pompano, but our warehouse is Pearlington, MS (Port and Harbor Drive). Is there any information on that general area? My prayers are with all of you. Susan Creed Global Sourcing & Design Eye on Katrina front page

Baker Street? 

I have family that lives on Baker St. in Biloxi and they chose to stay home hoping that the storm would pass and not be so bad.Well their home is a mobile home and I was trying to call them but can not get thru so I was wonering if the phones lines was down in that part of Biloxi. Thank You Katie B Eye on Katrina front page


I am in Jacksonville FL, and although my family has evacuated their home it is a few houses up from the water in Waveland. Do you have any updates from that area? Any information would be helpful. My thoughts are with all of you. God Speed, Brittany M. Ellis, Esq. Eye on Katrina front page

Before the power goes again, I'm trying to rapid fire posts. Forgive the sloppiness Thanks for the update on the Suburban Lodge - my dad is the General Manager of that hotel, I was able to call him from Va Beach, VA, to let him know what was going on. Ya'll are doing a great job - be safe & my prayers are with you! Theresa Eye on Katrina front page

Beau Rivage? 

Any word on the Beau Rivage area and the that strip of Beach Blvd near 110? RT Last report we heard, Beau Rivage had water into the first two floors, but that report was a few hours ago. Extensive flooding still in East Biloxi. Biloxi PD just reported it has no officers out on street patrol right now, but some workign rescue. Sorry, RT, that's about the best I can tell you right now.... Geoff Eye on Katrina front page

Help needed 

If anyone receives this email, My name is Elliott Quave and I live in Sacramento, CA My Family lives at 315 Nixon St. Biloxi My number is 916-686-3361, Cell 916 804-5203 My Family is very old, they are at the above residence, last I heard from them, they had water in the house, and it DID NOT sound good. This Email is our only form communication between California and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. COULD SOMEONE PLEASE GO CHECK THEM FOR US, PLEASE Elliott, I don't have any phone communication right now. Law enforcement is having trouble getting out and NO ONE ELSE SHOULD TRY TO GET OUT AND ABOUT RIGHT NOW! But I'm posting it for you, and if I can get through to any emergency workers, I'll pass it on as well. You're in our prayers Eye on Katrina front page

General update 

We got knocked off the air for a while, but, unbelievably, the power came back on. Things are looking bad here in hattiesbug. I think we're about to see the eye wall stuff coming in. Here's a general update Michael Newsom and I gathered from various sources: Porteaux Bay - four people are trapped on a roof, wearing lifejackets They couldn't get through to 911, but got on WLOX, asking for help 100mph wind gusts in Wiggins (11 a.m.) About 180k people are without power, Coast Electrict and Miss Power Report With current conditions, law enforcement is having trouble getting out. You may have to just sit tight. Stay indoors. Geoff and Micheal Eye on Katrina front page

Gulfport FD buildings taking beating 

At least three firehouses in Gulfport have taken significant damage. The company at Station 8 in Lyman was involved in a rescue operation of some sort, one spokesman said he thought it was an apartment complex. It could be the Lyman Elementary evacuation noted previously, just piecing things together. Eye on Katrina front page

Shelters damaged in Harrison Co.; no injuries reported 

Red Cross official said virtually all their shelters have received some sort of damage, including broken windows, leaky windows, no power and the like, but there have been no injuries. The most significant damage was at Lyman Elementary, where they lost two buildings. People were moved to another building on campus safely. At Woolmarket Elementary, they lost the roof. West Wortham Elementary has signficant roof damage. Again, no injuries have been reported, but communications have been spotty for some time. Eye on Katrina front page

More from Slippery Rock 

From Del Oehms Hamilton: It sounds so bad what we are hearing. It sounds like life as it has been on the Gulf Coast will be no more. I can not believe it as each report you post sinks in. Thanks again for keeping us informed. My nephew has been managing calls out from Jackson County but we can get no calls in. He reports major trees down and water rising in his subdivision off Rose Farm Road. Eye on Katrina front page

Anxious Air Force mom 

This is an anxious Air Force mom in Connecticut, praying for all of you and wondering if anyone knows conditions on the AFB?, Martha Ahlquist Martha, as far as we've heard the AFB is OK. Those folks know how to ride out a storm, so don't worry too much. Eye on Katrina front page

More requests 

We're getting lots of specific requests about damage reports. We aren't able to do anything like that at this point. I'm posting all I hear about, though. My apologies to Lacy Williams asking about Bay St. Louis, Carlos Medina asking about about Jeff Davis campus and Laura Luke asking about College Park. Keep checking in. Eye on Katrina front page

Biloxi query 

From Carol S. Lafleur: Our 2 sons are in Biloxi and we are not able to reach them by phone. I know the power went out around 4 am this morning and I was having a hard time reaching them on cell phone because the connection kept dropping off. Any one know anything about the conditions at Acadian Court, located about almost directly behind the President Broadwater Golf Club between Pass Road and "the back bay". From what I understand, it's about midway between Pass Rd and the Back Bay. Eye on Katrina front page

Memorial Hospital report 

From Greig: Sending this email from Tampa, FL. All my family is from Pass Christian. Our prayers are with you guys. Just got off the phone with my brother, Glyn, he works security at Memorial Hospital. His opinion is that it will need to be rebuilt after the hurricane. Windows are out on the bottom two floors, most of the roof is gone and they are losing doors from the wind blowing in. The top floor has been evac'd due to water coming through the roof. He also told me of an employee of the hospital who had to walk to work from almost in Long Beach. He walked to Memorial along the tracks in waist deep water. Not looking too good for Gulfport. Anyone out there with updates from Pass Christian? Thanks for the info. Eye on Katrina front page

Prayers from Athens 

As a native Mississippian (Yazoo City), now living in Athens, Georgia, who absolutely loves visiting the Gulf Coast and New Orleans - and has family and friends (including Sun Herald Sports Reporter Brandon Bickerstaff) that lives in both areas, I just want to let you know that I am praying for God's protection for all of you from the dangers Hurricane Katrina will be sending your way. I will be waiting and watching for updates on conditions in the area. Elmyra H. Jemison (Hammer got this one out to me. Thanks, Don, if you can still read this, be careful. I thought turkeys could fly, too... Geoff)

General Update 

Biloxi 66mph winds with 89-mph gusts at 10:30 Pascagoula, 64mph with 86mph gusts 10:30 A tornado was spotted near Poplarville at 10:20 a.m. (Mon) Tornado warnings in Harrison, Hancock Perry, Stone, George, Pearl River, and Forrest counties. Flash flood warnings in ALL south Mississippi counties Major flooding at Gulfport Armed Forced Retirement Home, they're moving medicine, equipment, wheelchairs, etc. being moved up as high in the building as they can get it. Whole first floor is under water 84 mph winds in downtown Mobile

D'Iberville flooding 

A Harrison County sheriff's official said a deputy reported 5.5 feet of water at Suburban Lodge on Automall Parkway in D'Iberville.

Anyone got Porteaux info? 

Any word on the Porteaux Bay area? I hate to bother y'all, but it is hard waiting and wondering from Crestview, FL, where we evacuated to my sister's house. We have only been back in our home for three months after having it completely redone from the flood we had April 1. I can only pray we'll be spared this time. Thanks for any info you guys have. AB

2nd Street info 

Sally sends this SEcond Street info, and it doesn't sound too good. Thanks, Sally FYI. My parents on second street in GUlfport have 5 feet of water inside their house. they are in the attic. sally cassady lyon center for the study of southern culture university of mississippi

Cellular South info 

Don, Geoff: Thought you might want to put this in your blog in case anyone needed a number to call. This lets people know about the storm and what percentage of the Cellular South wireless network is up in specific geographic areas. This will be important as people try to contact family and friends. Tanya Rankin (601.573.7134) is the contact at Cellular South. It will be important for people to use text messaging as much as possible instead of voice to help the network. Tanya can provide additional information.

Water north of the railroad at Kelly Ave. 

The fire station just north of the railroad tracks on Kelly Ave. just east of downtown Gulfport is taking on water. People on Second Street are calling to be evacuated from their attics.

General update 

Michael Newsome and I are holed up in Hattiesburg and, unbelievably, we still have power. Much of the Hub City doesn't from what we've heard. Here's a round-robin update from TV, radio, a couple of e-mails and what little phone communication we're able to get: 911 is still working, people can call, but emergency workers are having trouble getting out right now. Hancock County and Jaxco counties EOCs have had to evacuate their headquarters because of water and have relocated Wolf River is 23 feet, the highest it's ever been The tidal surge is 28 feet, and has been taking some homes off their slabs. There are reports of some people being trapped in their attics/ on their roofs. At Biloxi Station 3 fire house, there have been reports of refrigerators floating, 3-4 feet of water inside and firemen are trying to get their computers on top of their lockers The storm is only moving at 15 to 18 mph, so we are going to be socked in for a while --Geoff

Downtown Gulfport 

It's still blowing hard down here, from an old wind gage that probably hasn't been calibrated in a while, we're seeing 65-70 knot sustained winds with gusts up to 90. I've never seen so many frustrated firemen, standing in the lobby waiting to get out to do their jobs. It's just too dangerous now.

More 2nd Street concerns 

I retreated to Jackson for the storm and hope and pray that everyone in Gulfport is safe. Up here there is a light rain falling; the news predicts 80-90 mph winds later this evening. Has anyone given any reports regarding the status of water on Second Street in Gulfport? I live there as do several family members and friends and was wondering what the water level reports are in that area. Any info you can provide will be much appreciated. Take care. -Michael Hewes Michael, all I can tell you is, my last report was water breaking north of 90 in many areas of Gulfport. If anyone out there knows about 2nd street and can get through, e-mail to

Questions from Oxford 

I'm at Ole Miss reading the blog. Since there is water in the gulfport library, any idea what's happening on Second Street? i cant get through on phones to my family there.... Is the worst still to come or is it happening now? Thanks for the posts and the vigilance. We're praying for everyone down there. your blog is the only thing i can find on line that has real-time updates and i thank you for it. You are the only link.... s. lyon in Oxford. I don't have any specific report from 2nd street, and pretty much all phone communication is off for us too. But the worst is not over. I'll try to get more specific info for you soon. - geoff


Keep up the good work! From a former newspaper reporter here in Florida who is friends with former Sun Herald reporter Kristi Ruggles, I have checked out many many blogs today and you guys are doing the best!!! Don't want to clog up the lines since you have much more important things going on, but had to say GOOD JOB! I know you all are in the thoughts of a LOT of Floridians today. Regards, Stephanie Doyle

Many requesting evacuation 

The Harrison County Emergency Management Agency is getting a lot of phone calls from folks asking to be evacuated. They're being told in so many words that they missed the boat and to get as high in their houses or a neighbor's house as possible and hold on. It's still too dangerous to launch rescue operations.

BSL police trapped 

We have reports of a group of Bay St. Louis police officers trapped in the first floor of the Bay View Apartments.

More prayers 

From Kristi Ruggles (former Sun Herald education reporter) I've promised myself all morning I wasn't going to add to the deluge of folks who are pounding you with questions and emotional appeals and well wishes and blahblahblah, but I can't resist. First, I hope y'all are hanging in there. I'm throwing my prayers your way. And then, did Lisa Monti evacuate? I haven't been able to reach her, and now phone lines are down, which means, I suspect, you'll get this some time in September. Thinking of all of you. Thanks, Kristi. I don't have any info on Lisa right now, but the phone lines and towers are bad. If I hear, I'll post --Geoff

Wind shift in Long Beach 

From Don Hammack in Gulfport: A ham radio operator in Long Beach has reported the winds have shifted there, which would indicate the passing of the eye.

Message for Blake 

I hate to have to do this here, but phones are too squirelly. Blake Kaplan, can you get me a land-line No. for where you guys are, since cells aren't working very well? If you can't reach me by phone, try e-mailing it to me. Geoff

Greetings from Crowley 

This is from another former Sun Herald staffer: Hello, Sun Herald family...I'm in Crowley, La., at a hotel with a ton of New Orleanians and their pets - La Quinta means "we don't mind the dogs" in Spanish (big smile). Had to leave on Saturday for a close relative's funeral on Sunday. I'm here with my parents, who recently bought a home in Pass Christian. I'm wondering how things are there in the Pass. The news here is good, but focused mostly on New Orleans. Also please post whatever information you can get about how Wiggins is faring in the storm. Please stay safe and know that you are in my prayers. Don't eat too much junk food while you're holed up there at the office. Much love, Jessica Potts

Duelling bloggers 

Hammack and I (this is Geoff) will both be posting, as we each keep losing/regaining power. I just spoke with him by phone and he gave this report: Emergency people are receiving many, many calls from people who are seeing the water rise and calling for someone to come get them. But in most cases, there's nothing the emergency workers can do right now. There has been a report that some Biloxi firefighters on the East End are stranded in their station because of water.

Any info appreciated 

From Thank you for keeping this blog! It provided "news from home" during our evacuation due to Ivan last year and we can't stop checking on it this time. There is a lot of coverage about New Orleans and Mobile on TV but not much info about Mississippi coast. Whoever is in the broadcasting range of public radio, please, please, post any info you hear about the small coastal towns: Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach etc as Katrina makes its landing. We already found out from your blog that our house is in the water. Any info about closed roads and inaccessible areas would be greatly appreciated by everyone who is away from home right now. Thank you again for providing such a valuable service during hard times. You're certainly welcome -- GP

Prayers from Nashville 

From Laura Spence: Hello from Nashville coming from a former Air Nat'l Guardsman of the 255th at the Gulfport Air Nat'l Guard base. My thoughts and prayers are with you all! Hang in there and be safe not only during the storm but in the days to come while cleaning up. It can be alot more dangerous than people think. Use common sense and keep safety foremost in your thoughts. Hello to the 255th and Gulfport ANG TRNG site and all those who come in from other areas to help. I know you are all doing that stuff that no one sees but helps so many behind the scenes.

Credit Loriann Zello 

She posted the info from Keesler earlier. WE're losing power here.

Back up in Gulfport 

This is Don Hammack, and we're back up on commercial power at the Harrison County Courthouse after about an hour without after the generator crapped out. Here's a bunch of bullet points of interest recently. -- The Hancock County Emergency Operations Center has evacuated because their building had gotten unsafe. -- Gulf Coast Medical Center in Biloxi lost its generator. -- Memorial Hospital in Gulfport has lost two floors worth of windows. These reports will become more staccato because of uncertainty in the connectivity situation.

From Hammer, Jaxco report 

Hammack was able to call out from Civil Defense with this report from Jackson County: The roof was ripped off the St. Martin High Gym, but that doesn't affect people sheltering at the high school, because they are not in the gym. Jackson County EOC is having to evacuate. Emergency operations are being moved across the street to the courthouse.

Harrowing reports 

This is coming in fast and sporadic, as I gain and lose phone contact with Josh, who is in contact with Chief Sullivan: Sullivan says some buildings downtown are starting to ''implode''. He said some buildings are collapsing in the 19th Street area. There is water up to the service road at the Armed Forces home. Chief Sullivan had to rush off, to respond to reports of people trapped who need to be evacuated... no further details on that one.

Gulfport update 

This is the latest from Chief Pat Sullivan in Gulfport, reported by Sun Herald staffer Josh Norman: A tornado was reported in North Gulfport this morning -- no further info right now. The Gaston Hewes Recreation Center is partially collapsed. There is water in buildings all over Gulfport Business District (downtown), and glass has been blown out of many buildings. Waves are breaking NORTH of U.S. 90 in many areas in Gulfport. A few boats are floating NORTH of U.S. 90 in a couple of areas. There is water in the Downtown Library.

Good luck, Hammack; stay safe 

Hello, this is Geoff Pender again. Hammack and Harco Civil Defense are without power, so I'll try to fill his unfillable shoes on this blog, as long as I have power!?! I think there may be some problems with our URL, so maybe try to send to me at Good luck, and Godspeed Hammer. As usual, you've done a heck of a job.

Hancock County addendum 

One thing forgotten from the earlier post. Dee Lumpkin said she was unable to give a windspeed, as their anemometer on the mast on top of their building had broken.

Jackson update 

Tim Magandy, part of the famous Magandy clan of Long Beach and brother of Sun Herald city editor Kate Magandy, sends from Jackson, Miss.: At 0730 we have some light showers and some moderate winds. I will check in later. Stand by, Tim. It'll get ugly up there eventually, too. They've just zipped up the last open door to the courthouse here.

First-person account from Keesler AFB 

We got an e-mail from somebody who says they are stationed out at Keesler Air Force Base. I'm trying to get a name to properly credit them, but this is what they say: First off, I just wanted to address the concerns that were posted in Keesler kin checking in. I'm sheltering at the med center and we're all safe and relatively comfortable. The power is still up and the med center personell is going above and beyond to ensure our safety. No worries here. I personally feel like this is the safest place I can be with my kids. Also, I was wondering if there's anyone out there who might have some insight on how this storm could affect Ocean Springs as far as damage to property goes. Thanks and God bless, and STAY SAFE.

Hancock County update 

Dee Lumpkin, the deputy director of Hancock County Civil Defense, took a quick minute for an update. It's getting ugly over there. They've got 9 feet of water in Waveland. She thinks they've lost part of the back of the courthouse over there. There are houses in Bay St. Louis that don't normally flood that have water up to the doorknobs.

From the Sun Herald's offices 

Sun Herald reporter Josh Norman files the following from the paper's offices on DeBuys Road on the Gulfport-Biloxi city line about four blocks off the beach: The wind is whipping now. The roof on the building is creaking. You can hear the building's joints straining. Pat Sullivan called at 6:15 to ask if I wanted to go for a ride with him. I took one look outside and said, "nope." Anita felt brave briefly and thought she'd give it a go. Then she saw the winds. Pat pulled up, in a sedan I'd like to note, and said it was getting too rough and that he was heading back. I also just heard him over the scanner saying that he had succesfully extracted a woman and her 4 kids from their apartment after the roof ripped off. Lots of people still in their homes now and the shelters were pretty much all at capacity last night. I can't believe the complacency of people down here. There was a seagull in the parking lot, desperately clinging to life this morning. It was amazing that the thing held on in some of these gusts. It managed to find a slightly less windy spot behind a tire. Just hope the car stays there. I just saw Jim Cantore say he didn't know how much longer he was going to be able to broadcast from Gulfport. Uh oh. On the upside, the SunHerald's showers are lovely. And those windows in the conference room are providing a great view. Time to settle in and be prepared to run upstairs since the surge is now up over 90.

Starting to get ugly in Gulfport 

Jack O'Brien with the Gulfport Fire Department just gave me a rundown on what he saw in his efforts to survey the area in the past couple of hours. He made it between 20th and 34 avenues in the downtown area, with both lanes of U.S. 90 underwater. There are two sailboats in the intersection of U.S. 90 and 25th Avenue, and multiple boats in Jones Park, where the water is to the bottom of the oak trees. Water is getting into First Baptist Church, and it's in the parking lot at the Gulfport Library. O'Brien was out with two other firemen in a GFD pickup truck, and they said water was getting into the elevator lobby of the Grand Casino hotel south of 90 and they thought it was getting into the gambling barge's first floor. At the Oasis, north of the highway, there were trees down. O'Brien many windows in the downtown area were busted out by the east wind. They treated a man and his daughter who were weathering the storm in The Palace Restaurant (25th Ave. south of the railroad) when a plate glass window broke. They were taken to a hospital for further treatment.

Keesler kin checking in 

From Cyndy Woller: For posting the information about Keesler. Our son and daughter-in-law are sheltering there. Our first granddaughter is due anytime now. We had plans to come down this week. I guess that is on hold. My family vacationed several times in Biloxi when I was a child. Pre- and post-Camille. I remember the damage. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone there.

Water rising 

A Gulfport fireman just came in the EOC and said the water has risen substantially down by the Sound. It's up to the Gulfport Library, which sits relatively high just across Highway 90 from the Small Craft Harbor. Wind gusts here are up to 50 mph or so.

Back up in dark Gulfport 

I've had to switch to the dreaded dial-up after a series of Katrina-induced glitches. A timeline: About 5:50 -- I started noticing trouble with the internet connection the great folks here at the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency has made available to the Sun Herald. Their network runs through a connection over in Biloxi in a building they were worried about keeping power available in. They've been working on getting the backbone routed through this building, which has dependable generators, but it didn't get done in time. About 6:00 -- All the TVs blasting Jim Cantore, Carrie Duncan or whatever weather-predictor they were switched to started blasting static. The cable went down. A minute later -- Going to the front door, we can see what's a contributing factor to the cable: No power in downtown Gulfport. The big red "Hancock Bank" sign on the tall building downtown is dark, with the only lights anywhere the red ones atop towers to warn away airplanes. Don't think they'll have anybody to warn off anytime soon. At the same time -- Funny how when the TVs went out, looking outdoors suddenly became more entertaining. The only doorway here in the courthouse that's not shuttered suddenly became much more interesting. Go figure, actual real-time data right through the old eyeballs.

Harrison Central HS loses power 

There are about 350 evacuees in the dark at Harrison Central High School, as that shelter has lost power. Saucier Elementary also lost power a couple of hours ago.

Another Sun Herald alum 

Former Sun Herald copy desker Willie Jefferson, now living in the desert west: What up? Man, Katrina looks like she's for real ... Mr. Benson said he wanted to move his Saints ... looks like Katrina's gonna send them to San Antonio! Be safe and please give a message to my folks, Willie and Rosan Jefferson, that they should go to Starkville, hang with my sister, Nikki, and avoid this mean woman's wrath ... They refuse to listen to me ... but I think most parents never listen to their children. Ha ha! Chasing tumbleweeds and road runners, WILLIE J Sun Herald alumni Consider it done, Big Will.

Returning home, then this 

From Warren Mueller: Gosh, we just came back to the Pass after several years of roaming around for work. Was hoping to relax for awhile. Spent several nights last week watching the beautiful sunsets at Henderson Point. Will have to hold on to those memories as we all struggle through the muck and mess. God bless all ... Deaconsailorman It was weird driving around last night knowing that the next time you saw the Coast, things could be radically different.

Harrison County shelter update 

Here are the last round of numbers for shelters in Harrison County, which figures to be close to peak with the storm being this close: -- North Bay Elementary, Biloxi: 497 (capacity: 360) -- Gulfport Central Elementary: 289 (cap: 1,085) -- Bel-Aire Elementary, Gulfport: 113 (cap: 375) -- Harrison Central Elementary, Gulfport: 228 (cap: 455) -- Harrison Central 9th Grade, Gulfport: 120 (cap: 645) -- Harrison Central High School, Lyman: 350 (cap: 1710) -- Lizana Elementary, Gulfport: 350 (cap: 550) -- Lyman Elementary, Lyman: 350 (cap: 550) -- North Woolmarket Elementary, Biloxi: 234 (cap: 1,200) -- Orange Grove Elementary, Gulfport: 223 (cap: 810) -- Saucier Elementary, Saucier: 210 (cap: 480) -- Three Rivers Elementary, Gulfport: 122 (cap: 950) -- West Wortham Elementary, Saucier: 330 (cap: 1,225) -- Woolmarket Elementary, Biloxi: 137 (cap: 555) -- West Elementary, Gulfport: 124 (cap: 790) -- North Gulfport 7th and 8th Grade, Gulfport: 72 -- Good Deeds, Gulfport: 118 (cap: 600) -- Quarles Elementary, Long Beach: 120

Wake up, and what do I find? 

I grabbed about an hour's nap, and awoke to find the storm had taken a little turn to the northeast, it looks like from the radar loop. At this point, it's very difficult to figure out what the heck we're supposed to hope for. That turn to the east is probably really good news for New Orleans, not so great news for us. Also, looking at the National Data Buoy Center (headquartered at Stennis Space Center just on this side of the Louisiana state line right where it will hit), the peak winds from the network of data buoys is about 90 knots (104 mph) and that's a gust. It'd be nice if this thing petered out a little bit here at the threshold. A boy can hope ...

Sunday, August 28, 2005

It's not a Sun Herald storm blog ... 

... until former copy editor Kevin Hecteman checks in: Y'know, we really need to stop meeting like this. I was out of town most of the weekend and managed to not find out about the Category 5 hurricane steaming straight for the mouth of the Mississippi till early Sunday afternoon. "Yikes" doesn't even begin to cover it. Watching the veritable parade of hurricanes over the past year has made me realize how fortunate I was while I was living there (November 1999 to July 2002). I don't think *any* hurricanes came the Coast's way during that time -- the worst I can think of was the remnants of Tropical Storm Allison, and I think I actually slept through that morning storm. Godspeed to all of you. I enjoyed reading Mash's column. I recognized the names of all four of the "road warriors" in Columbus. Take care. Remind me to write some time when there's no hurricane churning in the Gulf. Y'all get earthquakes; we get hurricanes. Which would I prefer ...


Not sure exactly who this is, other than it's somebody apparently from Montana who goes by Sweet4NonU: Hi Everyone,Especially David! I moved back to Montana last winter, but I'll be back! Hurricane or not. It's Mississippi or bust! Hope you're doing okay David. I'm sure you are busy evacuating the veterans. Wish I was there to help. Wish I could send all of you some of this HOT, EXTREMELY DRY weather we have here. If I had to choose a way to go, I'd choose a wet hurricane over burning up in a range, or forest fire any day.

Downtown Gulfport snapshot 

Another look outside shows the rain in starting to fall harder. We're getting a little more wind, enough to make the rain start to fall in sheets. It's enough to shake a stop sign, but not enough for the real spastic shaking that I'm sure will come later. The wind still has a component from the north here.

Some diversionary thoughts 

From a fellow Long Beach High School alum, Raj Sabharwal, who is now living in Washington, D.C.: Just wanted to send my best wishes to everyone in Long Beach and the rest of the coast. Your blog is great way for us coast brats who've moved away to stay informed. Dad's safe in Richmond right now, but we are all worried about our friends and extended family back home. Stay safe and hunker down. For a little diversion in this stressful time, here are some random thoughts: 1) When this is over, someone please tell Tucker Carlson and the other national newscasters that "St. Louis" is in Missouri, and we call our town "Bay St. Louis". Hope they don't try to pronounce Pascagoula, Gautier, or Delisle. That's the only good thing about seeing your hometown on TV, is to laugh at outsiders trying to figure things out. 2) How bout them Bearcats! Good to see the football team win the first game of the year. I'm thinking playoffs..... Be happy with a victory to open the season, but don't bank on the postseason just yet. 3)Tell Jim Mashek that the Nationals fans in DC still have some hope, but we desperately need some offense to get back in the wildcard race. Its been great having a baseball team in DC this year and the best part is that I only live a few blocks from the stadium. Nothing beats walking to a baseball game on a summer night. Well, except of course for a fall Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, Geaux Tigers! That editor's note was from me. I caught a couple of Nats games in DC this summer, and have become a fan of the team from afar. It's been a good ride. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone back home. Thanks, Raj.

Downtown Gulfport snapshot 

We're starting to get steady rain in downtown Gulfport, but at the moment the wind, what there is of it, is from the north. It's not very significant ... at the moment.

From Georgia 

Judy Gex, of Drowning Creek Studio in Commerce, Ga., writes: Thanks to all of you Sun Herald peeps for keeping me & other ex-Coast residents up-to-date. Be safe, all of you..... We do our best. Thanks for checking in.

Shout out to NOLA peeps 

Just got off the phone with former Sun Herald employee Richard Meeks and former compatriot on the Saints beat, Jeff Duncan. They're two of about 200 people bunkered down at The Times-Picayune's plant in New Orleans. Hats off to them for sticking around. They're on the third floor, which means they just might be above sea level. Here's hoping all the NOLA's-a-swimming-pool talk is just that. Good luck to those guys.

Biloxi mayor Q&A 

Biloxi mayor A.J. Holloway did this Q&A for the city's Web site at 8:45 tonight: Q. What is the status of things in Biloxi at the moment? A. We have a fire department of about 200 firefighters, and two-thirds of those people -- two of our three shifts -- are on duty now, and our police department has also ramped up, and we have plenty of officers patrolling the streets. There's going to come a point in time when we'll have to pull our people off the streets. With the 9 p.m. curfew, we don't expect to see anyone on the streets, and our police will be stopping and questioning any one they come across. This curfew is in effect until further notice, because the latest reports we have are to expect winds at 75 mph starting around 6 Monday morning in Biloxi, and gradually increasing to as high as 140 mph. The storm surge would be as high as 24 to 28 feet, the forcasters are saying. Q. What has been one of the most important messages you've been communicating to Biloxi residents? A. We've worked throughout the day today doing the things we needed to be doing -- staying on message and warning people to evacuate, and making sure they knew the severity of this storm. We actually started this process years ago with our annual storm preparedness mailouts. Biloxi has been through hurricanes through the years. How is this threat different? We're facing the worst case of a worst case scenario. We went through Camille 36 years ago this month, but we have so much more to lose these days -- $5 billion worth of investment along our waterfront, 15,000 new jobs since 1992, and growing numbers of visitors each year. In fact, we've seen the number of visitors to our city grow from a million a year to between 10 and 12 million a year now. At the same time, we are better prepared today to deal with storms than at any other time in our history. Q. How do you think the floating casino barges will fair along Biloxi's shoreline? A. Casino mooring systems are designed to withstand winds of 155 and a tidal surge of 15 feet, so this will be a huge test, considering we're now being told winds could get as high as 140 mph sometime Monday and a storm surge as high as 28 feet. Q. What happens next? A. Right now, we're doing what we can on the streets, and we're also looking to the next step, and that's the aftermath. Heavy equipment has been pre-positioned around the city to have it ready to clear streets. We worked with FEMA a few months ago and we already have a debris-removal contactor in place, and we expect him to hit the ground running once this storm passes. We expect major damage. We expect power to be interrupted. We expect to have a lot of challenges, but we also expect -- and we know -- that the people of Biloxi have been survivors for 300 years now and we're going to survive this. Three public shelters are operating in Biloxi at this time -- at public schools. About 1,100 people are in those shelters, and one of the locations, Biloxi Junior High School, has room for a few hundred more, so we're OK as far as capacity. People need to stay where they are at this point, and continue to monitor the news reports. We're going to get through this.

Multiple means of protection 

From city editor Kate Magandy: Most people in Long Beach know who Father Louie Lohan is (for those outside Long Beach, he's the pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Long Beach). Father Louie, Father Cleary and another friend of theirs, Bill, joined several of us hunkered down at Elvis Gates' house in Long Beach. With the rectory for the church right on the beach, they couldn't stay there. The way I figure it, we can't lose with two Irish Catholic priests staying with us. Besides, Elvis, who's a State Farm agent, has built himself a REALLY secure house, hence the reason for the big campout at Camp Gates. Hopefully, all will go well.

Harrison County shelters update 

A breakdown of people at shelters in Harrison County, as provided by the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency: BILOXI: -- North Bay Elementary: FULL -- Biloxi Junior High School: OPEN, *number of occupants unknown -- Popps Ferry Elementary: FULL GULFPORT: -- Gulfport Central Elementary School: 220, Capacity 1085 -- West Elementary School: 198, Capacity 790 -- Good Deeds Community Center: 96, Capacity 600 LONG BEACH: -- W.J. Quarles Elementary School: OPEN* PASS CHRISTIAN: -- Delisle Elementary School: RELOCATED, CLOSED HARRISON COUNTY: -- Harrison Central Elementary School: 225, Capacity 455 -- Harrison Central High School: 370, Capacity 1710 -- Harrison Central Ninth Grade School: 112, Capacity 645 -- Lizana Elementary School: 285, Capacity 550 -- North Gulfport Eighth Grade School: 45 -- North Woolmarket Elementary: 231, Capacity 1200 -- Orange Grove Elementary: 140, Capacity 810 -- Pineville Elementary School: RELOCATED, CLOSED -- Saucier Elementary: 202, Capacity 480 -- Three Rivers Elementary: 125, Capacity 950 -- West Wortham Elementary: 330, Capacity 1225 -- D’Iberville High School: OPEN* -- Lyman Elementary: 94, Capacity 750 -- Woolmarket Elementary: 330, Capacity 555 -- Bel-Aire Elementary: 94, Capacity 375

Hancock County update 

Just got off the phone with Hancock County Civil Defense deputy director Dee Lumpkin who said the winds are picking up over there, but things remain relatively quiet. (For those checking in unfamiliar with our area, Hancock County is the western-most of the three coastal counties in Mississippi, the one that butts up against Louisiana.) "We're just holed up here and waiting," Lumpkin said. Their lone shelter has been filled since 2:30 p.m., and she said that two or three shelters in Pearl River County (one county north) are full of evacuees from Hancock County. They moved their special needs shelter from Bay St. Louis to the north end of the county to make it safer, but the new location lost power once already. Coast Electric crews quickly got power restored, however. Three state agencies have pulled their manpower from the county, retreating from the storm and hoping they'll be able to quickly get back after it passes. The 890th Engineering Battalion detachment has gone back to Picayune, where it is normally stationed. Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and Mississippi Department of Health personnel have also left the county.

Hattiesburg sorority hanging out 

Megan Sheets of Long Beach writes from the Southern Miss campus in Hattiesburg: Libby Gantt from Andalusia, Ala.; Sarah Young from Oak Grove; Wren Ward from Little Rock, Ark.; Kim Belsom from Kenner, La.; Ashley Cangelosi from Mandeville, La, and I are at the Panhellenic dorm. Right now Libby, Sarah, Megan, and Wren are all playing on computers. Wren is setting up an AIM account for Libby. Kim is sitting in the room with us just chatting and Ashley is working on some online homework. We just got our food the school, so we're prepared for tomorrow. We're also watching a movie on TV. We all decided to stay together because we are the only Chi Omega's left at school besides our resident adviser, Erica. In the beginning we had plans to go to Alabama to Libby's house, but we just decided to stick it out in H'Burg, so that we could stay together. So, we all went to church at Sacred Heart and then went to Lenny's, a sub shop, to get dinner before we had to go to a meeting in the dorm at 7 p.m. The hall director had to inform us on all of the precautions, like closing our windows and moving our stuff off the floor and away from the windows. There's a curfew from 6 a.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday. And from 6-11 a.m. tomorrow we have to be on the first or second floors (we live on the very top on the 8th floor). Due to boredom, we've also decided to explore Panhellenic. There are rumors that there are ghosts upstairs, so we've been trying to freak everybody out! Sarah and Megan were the only brave ladies that would go upstairs to explore. Ashley and Wren are way freaked out by the whole thing.

As promised ... Mash 

Sun Herald sports columnist Jim Mashek has made his way to safety, but we haven't had time to tell the folks over in the east that they need to get safe from him. Here's his dispatch, which he has headlined "Yeah, I'm still a little scared, but hey, we'll be back." By Jim Mashek Sun Herald Spanish Fort, Ala. -- Longest five-hour drive of my life. Bar none. I knew it was going to take some time. I knew there might be a couple detours along the way. But I made it. Hopefully, out of harm?s way. Hurricane Katrina is still churning in the Gulf of Mexico, and it's already scared the hell out of me. I got to the Sun Herald at about 10 this morning, and helped interim sports editor Doug Barber and Mike Woten, the Biloxi High baseball team's man about town and Sun Herald sportswriter, get out an early edition of the paper's sports section. Got out of there a little after lunchtime. My mind was racing by the time I got to my little house in Pass Christian. Thankfully, I no longer drive the go-cart -- Sun Herald readers might remember I took that beat up '95 Honda del Sol into three feet of water last year during Tropical Storm Matthew -- but I had to evaluate what went in the car and what would have to stay behind. First off, load the cooler. Some soft drinks. Some typical bachelor pad left-overs. A six-pack of Miller Lite. Ice 'er down. (To the tune of Larry The Cable Guy's, "Get 'Er Done.") Then, peruse the closets. Get plenty of clothes, certainly all the nice stuff my mom or somebody with actual taste actually purchased. Grabbed some stuff for the cooler months, too. As the immortal Fred G. Sanford once said, "This is the big one." Looked for as many pictures and keepsakes as I could find. Pictures of my nieces and nephews. The photo album I put together about 20 years ago. My high school football team picture. All the essentials. (One thing I couldn't overlook was a framed full-page ad from the New York Times, in which my dad is featured in an advertisement for his former employer, U.S. News & World Report. The headline reads, "Newsbuff." Dad's seated in his office at U.S. News, and, as an aside to my fellow Sun Herald employees, his desk was as cluttered as mine has ever been.) Loaded the Accord with all the essentials. Some compact discs and worn-down paperbacks. The Panama hat. My lacrosse sticks and favorite softball bat. Time to rock 'n roll. I've made the trip to Baldwin County countless times for the Senior Bowl or the obligatory getaway to Gulf Shores. Usually a breezy drive. Not this time. I got on the road at about 3:30 Sunday afternoon. Turned onto I-10 at Menge Ave., and got off two exits later. Doubled back to U.S. 90. Made a quick stop at the paper. The newsroom was deserted, but there were some pressmen in the building. One last delivery truck was about to leave the plant. Got back in my ride. Time to head east. (There was a Boston knock-off band by the same name in the late '70s; their big splash was an album called "Flat as a Pancake.") Got back on U.S. 90. Drove past the deserted casinos, the same ones doing bustling business on Saturday night. Got over the bridge to Ocean Springs, at which point traffic started to slow down. And then come to a crawl. It started raining between Ocean Springs and Gautier. Drivers were courteous, however. Helpful even. If you wanted to change lanes, they'd let you. People were driving carefully. Yeah, I spent some time on my cell phone, but I wasn't rocking out to Little Feat or Stevie Ray Vaughan or anything. My car was tuned to WWL Radio, and, on occasion, WTNI-AM in Biloxi. They did a good job of keeping drivers informed. Everybody forged ahead. It took me about 45 minutes or so to traverse a couple miles in Pascagoula, but to my surprise, a Chevron station on the eastbound side of the road was open. Figured I'd top off my tank. The girl behind the counter said they'd be open another 30 minutes, max. Got back on the road. Thought about jumping on I-10 at the Alabama state line, where you can see the traffic on the interstate. Intuition told me to stay on U.S. 90. Even though it was soon going from four lanes to two. Got through Grand Bay and stopped at a Sonic. Made my way through Mobile, and was amazed at all the restaurants and gas stations actually open. It was dark by now, but the end was in sight. Former Sun Herald colleague Steve Wiseman called from Columbia, S.C. Talked to Ron Higgins from the Memphis Commercial Appeal. We had hoped to see his son, Carl, play in Southeastern Louisiana's football opener on Thursday night in Hammond. Figure that's a wash. Spent a few minutes on the horn with my mom and dad, who were calling from Washington, D.C. (Wished I was actually there, watching a Nationals game in the left-field bleachers.) [Editor's note: The Nats lost again today, 6-0 to the Cards. It's been a good ride the first season there, but they don't have enough in the tank to catch the Braves or the wild-card, dangit.] The last few miles were the longest, but I got to my friend's house at about 9 o'clock. Her directions were flawless. My driving was OK. Good enough for government work. The rain's falling harder now. They're watching a movie and I'm hacking away. I'm thinking about my Sun Herald colleagues now, guys like Doug Barber, aka The Captain, hunkering down at Scott Hawkins' crib. Melissa Scallan and Tracy Dash and Robin Fitzgerald, who are still on the Coast somewhere. Getting the story. Don Hammack, who is hunkered down at Civil Defense in the Harrison County Courthouse, and Geoff Pender, who singlehandedly forms the Sun Herald's Hattiesburg bureau. Those guys are bustin' a hump. I hope my neighbor John's all right. I hope they got the elderly are safe. I saw lots of dogs in the back of trucks on U.S. 90. They're wet, no doubt, but they're away from the brunt of the storm. Ah, the storm. Emphasis on the word, 'the,' from what they're telling us. It's just a matter of time before the TV is back on the Weather Channel or CNN, but it's a nice break. It's going to be a long night. I've called South Mississippi home since 1994. Its greatest strength is its people. I know it's tough, real tough, right now. All we can think about is what's happening, and how helpless we are against forces of nature. For the moment. When this sucker passes, we'll be back. No two ways about it.

Two Harrison Co. shelters to relocate 

People in shelters at Pineville and Delisle elementary schools in West Harrison County will be relocated because officials are concerned about the Wolf River. It's already risen above flood stage and officials believe it could crest tomorrow morning at a record 23 feet. The evacuees will be bused to other county shelters.

Ride around 

Just got back from a ride around Gulfport with fire chief Pat Sullivan. After helping get a homeless person to a shelter, and taking two people from one shelter to another to get away from some friction, we took a tour of Gulfport. It's terribly cliche', but it was definately the calm before the storm. Outside of a intense little downpour at the start, it didn't do much other than sprinkle the rest of the time we were out. Winds weren't up significantly more than a normal afternoon thunderstorm, but the Mississippi Sound is churning pretty good. In some places, it's about halfway up the beach. In Gulfport's Small Craft Harbor, water was just about up to the piers at 8:15 p.m. Ducks were bedding down just at the water's edge next to the bait shops on the north part of the harbor, although I'm sure they were going to have to move further up into Jones Park shortly thereafter. There were about 10 people hanging out at the end of Urie Pier, but a Gulfport police officer was running them off with only 30 minutes remaining until the curfew went into effect. Around 9 p.m., Sullivan rousted three kids from hanging out at Combs Pier, then turned away a line of kids in pickup trucks at the traffic light there, telling them to get to the house. The rest of the uneventful ride took us to DeBuys Road, up to Pass Road and back to downtown Gulfport. It's always spooky just how deserted the city can feel like, and just as spooky to wonder why folks are still driving around.

Keesler AFB question 

From Chris McCandlish: Good evening. I've just returned to Ohio from vacation that took us to a girfriend of mine at Keesler AFB. We went to New Orleans as well, but thankfully her senior officer called her vacation short on Saturday and saved us all from today's traffic. However, I am deeply concerned for her safety on the base. The student population is being sheltered on the base while most of the remaining base population has been evacuated. Is she safe on the base shelter? It's a very short distance from the ocean and not too much higher than sea level. If anybody is familiar with base please let us know. She is very close to my heart right now. All who are on the coast are close to all of the nation's hearts. Thanks for the question. We get this question just about every storm, but there are places at Kessler built as bomb shelters to withstand a storm. They also are confident there's enough elevation there to protect against storm surge.

A view from the Hub City 

From Geoff Pender: In a tireless effort to provide its viewers the vital, potentially life-saving information they need, WDAM in Hattiesburg is airing ... The Eagles, in concert! Instead of mundane warnings about the 115-mph winds about to hit, you get Joe Walsh and the gang. I'll never complain about WLOX again!

To our readers 

The Sun Herald produced Monday's edition on Sunday afternoon and then sent the staff off to deal with their personal situations. Most, like the rest of our neighbors in South Mississippi took off for various points away from the coast, though a great many are riding out Katrina at their homes. The Tiners are in the latter category staying in Orange Grove on relatively high ground about ten miles from the coast. A group of reporters are staying in the newspaper riding out the storm at our newsroom on DeBuys Road. A team of editors was dispatched to our sister paper, the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Inquirer where they will be prepared to put together Tuesday's Sun Herald. The road warriors are Blake Kaplan, Paul Hampton, Jared Head and Rudy Nowak. They will put together our first draft of the history of Katrina's most unwelcome visit in Georgia and it will be delivered on Tuesday afternoon at shelters and other locations across coast as a free newspaper. Meanwhile our staff is prepared to go to work as soon as humanly possible to bring you the images and stories of this incredible event in the life and times of South Mississippi. It may very well be a news event on an order equal to that other defining storm here, Camille. A number of our colleagues from other Knight Ridder newspapers are being pre-positioned to join our team in that important post-storm reporting. These include editors, reporters and photographers from papers as distant as the San Jose Mercury News, Charlotte Observer, Miami Herald, Macon (Ga.) Telegraph and those friends at the Ledger-Inquirer who are hosting our storm team. Our thoughts are with all of you as we await the challenge of the next couple of days. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you and we very much appreciate all of the similar expressions of solidarity you have sent to us. Stan Tiner Executive Editor Sun Herald

Wolf River residents leave now 

Harrison County officials are begging people living near the Wolf River to leave now, that if they wait until Monday morning it will be too late because of the rising river. They expect the river to rise above 8 feet (flood stage) by 9 p.m. Sunday and be at a staggering 23 feet by 11 a.m. Monday. For perspective, the highest recorded level is 16 feet. At 15 feet, several homes on Magnolia Drive and businesses along Menge Avenue will be under water. The Menge Avenue Bridge will go under later, along with several homes on Bells Ferry Road. Even the road will become too dangerous to travel because of fast-moving water.

Ohio well-wishes 

Lois from Ohio sends: Spent a few vacations in Biloxi. Loved the people and area. Was going to return this Oct. ... maybe not. God be with all of you ... you are in our prayers.

And Montana again 

From Bitsy (Herman) Black, in Fairfield, Mont.: Hello, my thought and prayers are with you all in the deep south. I grew up in Gulfport and remember Camille, as well as other storms.I now reside in Montana, but most of my siblings still remain on the coast and are riding it out. My younger brother is a police officer for the city of Gulfport. He will be on duty at 7:00 am and yes I am worried. He is very special to me, so if you see Officer Greg Herman, give him my love and tell him my prayers are with him. To all of my family stay safe, and know my thoughts are there. Take care and God bless you all. If I see Officer Herman, I'll pass along your thoughts. Thanks.

Montana checking in 

From Michael King: I lived in Gulfport from 1973-80. I went thru Frederic and David in '79. Have never forgot what that was like. Grew up in Oklahoma and Kansas in tornado alley. Still doesn't compare to Gulf Coast storms. My heart goes out to those in the path of Katrina. I live in Montana, but not so far away that I can't pray for those in harm's way. Thanks

Gulf Coast CC closed through Tuesday 

All campuses of Gulf Coast Community College will be closed Monday and Tuesday because of the storm. Essential personnel should report to work Tuesday as circumstances allow. MGCCC is posting announcements and updates at its Web site. Students and employees can also call (866) 735-1122 for more information.

Mash on the road 

Intrepid Sun Herald sports columnist Jim Mashek just checked in from on the road in Pascagoula. He said it took him about 45 minutes to go 2 miles at one point, but it's picked back up and he was zooming along at 55 mph. Stay tuned for a full Gonzo report from Mash when he gets settled in over in Spanish Fort, Ala.

A happy repeat customer 

From Dell Oehms Hamilton in Slippery Rock, Pa.: Thanks again for doing this blog. During Ivan last year it was my lifeline and I am sure it will be again through tonight and tomorrow. My thoughts and prayers are with you and all my family and friends on the coast. I have been sitting here today reliving horrible memories of Camille's wrath. I always feel so helpless here in Pennsylvania and having to watch Jim Cantore on the Weather Channel isn't helping. Stay safe everyone! Sorry we keep meeting like this, but thanks for checking in. As an aside, I wonder what ever happened to my Slippery Rock University T-shirt. I had one in college and it musta got lost in one of my many moves.

National Guard ready to go 

A 17-person detachment from the 890th Engineering Battalion, which is headquartered in Gulfport, is at the Harrison County Courthouse ready to help during Hurricane Katrina. "We're the 911 force," said Staff Sgt. John Freeman, who lives in Purvis. Most of this group is from Purvis, although there's one who volunteered to come over from Mobile and another who lives in Long Beach who was attached to it. Company A from Picayune is performing similar duties in Hancock County, while Company C from Columbia is in Jackson County. Freeman said they'll be the emergency responders during the height of the storm, when regular emergency vehicles can't handle the wind and rain. They have large troop transports as well as humvees stationed here at the courthouse. Larger equipment, included backhoes and bulldozers, is staged at the armory by Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and will be used in their second mission, to help clean-up roads in the aftermath of the storm. The unit has performed similar duties in Georges and Isidore. During Isidore, they were involved in the rescue at Point Cadet, where storm surge surprised residents who hadn't evacuated there. Freeman told a story from one storm where they went out trying to get a woman in labor in the neighborhood behind the Kmart in Orange Grove. While they were getting out of their vehicles, they had to duck and huddle together to avoid a roof that flew past them.

Harrison County shelter numbers 

There are more than 2,400 people taking advantage of 16 public shelter locations in Harrison County. North Bay Elementary is the only shelter that is closed, although West Elementary School is approaching capacity. All other shelters have plenty of room.

School closings update 

An updated list of school districts that will be closed Monday and possibly into Tuesday: -- Forrest County: Forrest County, Hattiesburg & Petal school districts. -- George County: George County School District. -- Hancock County: Bay St. Louis, Hancock & Waveland school districts. -- Harrison County: Biloxi, Gulfport, Harrison, Long Beach & Pass Christian school districts. -- Jackson County: Jackson County, Moss Point, Ocean Springs & Pascagoula school districts. -- Lamar County: Lamar County & Lumberton school districts. -- Marion County: Columbia & Marion County school districts -- Pearl River County: Pearl River, Picayune & Poplarville school districts. -- Pike County: McComb & Pike County school districts. -- Stone County: Stone County School District. -- Greene County: Greene County Belhaven College and the University of Southern Mississippi have cancelled all day and night classes. Belhaven officials ask for environmental and maintenance personnel to still report to work Monday.

US 49 slowdowns south of Jackson 

It's not rubberneckers trying to get a look at Faith Hill's hometown of Star causing the traffic slowdown on U.S. 49 North this side of Jackson. Delays near Star and Florence were caused when traffic signals were not being manually controlled to expedite the evacuation. The Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol and Department of Transportation are trying to fix this problem. Evacuees are encouraged to take alternate routes from U.S. 49 North to the Jackson area. Some alternate routes from U.S. 49 North include: -- Miss. Highway 13 in Mendenhall westbound to Miss. Highway 18 or eastbound to Interstate 20. -- Miss. Highway 28 in Magee to Interstate 55.

Hattiesburg evacuation plans implemented 

Hattiesburg and Forrest County officials have implemented the city's evacuation play this afternoon. Motorists on the US 98/Interstate 59 bypass cannot exit onto US 49 North there. They will be directed to alternate routes from there.

I-10 update 

Interstate 10 East in Mobile is closed at the tunnel, and traffic is being diverted to the bridge there. Going to the West, it's been closed at the Louisiana state line with contraflow in effect.

Marine Life evacuation 

From city editor Kate Magandy: Dolphins from the Marine Life Oceanarium were moved inland to two hotel pools Sunday afternoon on Highway 49 near Interstate 10 to get them out of harm’s way, said Dr. Moby Solangi of the Oceanarium. Three dolphins were moved to the Best Western swimming pool on Highway 49 and three dolphins were moved next door to the Holiday Inn swimming pool, Solangi said. Solangi said the pools were dechlorinated beforethe dolphins were moved to their temporary shelter. "They’re doing fine," Solangi said.

More well wishes 

Hurricane Camille visited the coast on my mom's birthday. Though I went through Hurricane Frederic, I never thought another Cat-5 hurricane would hit in my lifetime. My prayers are with the coast and our Louisiana cousins. As Always, Be Well, Kenya A. Hudson Thanks.

Washington checking in 

Hi, Don: I went through Betsy in the Pass, graduated from Pass High, and was married in Trinity Episcopal Church (just before Camille). My heart remains there and my prayers and concerns are for all of you as Katrina approaches. Wish I could do more than that. Be safe and be well. Thanks so much for being online. Linda Eaton Grouell Everett, WA Thanks to a former Coastian.

Jackson County update 

Jackson County has ordered all residents south of Highway 90 to evacuate, and officials strongly recommend everyone south of Interstate 10 leave. A curfew will go into effect at 10 p.m. Four roads are closed there: -- Octavia Street in Ocean Springs -- Graveline Road in Gautier -- Bayou Heron Road in Moss Point -- Lake Mars Road in Jackson County. The county now has four shelters open at St. Martin High School, Vancleave High School, Moss Point High School and East Central High School.

Greetings and solicitations 

This is Don Hammack, and I've been posting for the last couple of hours. Thanks to Geoff Pender for getting things started while I tried to flush a summer cold out of my system before Katrina brings her waves our way. (Walkin' on sunshing, my butt.) We welcome any contributions from locals, people who have evacuated or anybody else. Share your experiences and ask any questions you have. You can send your e-mail to me. Well-wishers feel free to pass them along. I'll post everything I get from the Harrison County Emergency Operations Center as long as we stay dry.

DIY sandbags 

Anybody needing sandbags at this late stage can get 'em for free at the Harrison County road department's facility on Lorraine Road, just north of the sheriff's fueling station and about half-a-mile south of Interstate 10. The bags and sand are between the fence and the road. A few shovels were also left there. Residents must fill the bag themselves. Please leave the shovels for the next person.

Highway 49 moving fast 

Reports from traveler headed north on Highway 49 are doing 80 mph up to Hattiesburg, so that looks like a good option at the moment.

Shelters upstate 

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is directing people traveling north to Jackson looking for shelter to report to the Wal-Mart in Madison, where Red Cross personnel are directing travelers to the best shelters. The Wal-Mart is just off Exit 108 on Interstate 55, north of Jackson. MEMA also said traffic on I-59 north of the Louisiana line has been moving well, although traffic counts are up. Anecdotal evidence says that Interstate 10 eastbound isn't moving as well, although MEMA says at the state line they're still seeing traffic moving. They pointed out that traffic was bogged down at the tunnel under Mobile Bay, however.

Navy evacuation info 

The U.S. Navy has approved a liberal evacuation policy for its personnel and dependents in the Gulf Coast region, allowing them to go up to 500 miles from their homeports. Families in the local area are encouraaged to either evacuate to the Seabee base, to Tallahassee, Fla., or to a safe haven of their choice. If families choose to evacuate to Tallahassee or to another safe haven, they are to keep hotel receipts and the Navy will reimburse them at the established Tallahassee per diem rates only for hotel lodging and travel mileage. Personnel should remain in contact with their chain of command to get word as to when it is safe to return. For families in Navy housing, they are required to evacuate family housing to either the CBC shelter, Tallahassee, Florida, or a safe haven of your choice. For information regarding this policy announcement, call the NCBC Gulfport Emergency Operations Center Operator at 871-2171/72/73/74.

North Bay Elementary full 

Biloxi is directing evacuees to Biloxi Junior High School or Popps Ferry Elementary. North Bay Elementary School is full.

New Gulfport shelter 

North Gulfport 7th and 8th Grade School has been opened as a public shelter. The school's address is 4715 Illinois Avenue, Gulfport. Please enter on the Polk Street side.

School closings 

The following school districts have been closed for Monday, and possibly will remain closed Tuesday: -- Forrest County: Forrest County, Hattiesburg & Petal school districts. -- George County: George County School District. -- Hancock County: Bay St. Louis, Hancock & Waveland school districts. -- Harrison County: Biloxi, Gulfport, Harrison, Long Beach & Pass Christian school districts. -- Jackson County: Jackson County, Moss Point, Ocean Springs & Pascagoula school districts. -- Pearl River County: Pearl River, Picayune & Poplarville school districts. -- Stone County: Stone County School District. The University of Southern Mississippi has also cancelled all classes on the Gulf Coast and Hattiesburg campuses.

Beach traffic 

I just made a quick trip home from the county courthouse in downtown Gulfport, and came back along the beach. There is significantly more traffic headed east than west, but it would appear Highway 90 would be a good alternative to Interstate 10 in the near-term. Once the water comes up, though, that will go away. Speaking of water coming up, the casino barge at Grand Casino in Gulfport is already riding several feet above normal. I don't know if they disconnect the walkways during their hurrican preparations, but the ones inside the entryways are down. During one of the storms several years ago, this caused a problem when a gas line was severed, but all those connections are now shutdown at the street.

I-10 = Snail's pace 

Just talked to Gulfport fire chief Pat Sullivan who was out by Interstate 10 on Lorraine Road in Gulfport. He said eastbound traffic is bumper-to-bumper, and moving only 10 mph or so. He wanted to stress two things. First, county officials really want people to get out of Dodge this time. "If you're sitting on the fence," he said, "get off the fence and go." They really want everybody south of I-10 to get north of I-10. Secondly, he said that if people expect the typical 5-8 minute response time to a 911 call during the storm, they will be sadly mistaken. Once winds get above 60 mph, ambulances can't get out and other responders will be similarly affected. It may take armored personnel carriers to get folks to emergency scenes.

Hancock County update 

Hancock County has been under a mandatory evacuation order since this morning, and its one public shelter is beyond capacity. There are 350 people at Hancock North Central Elementary, and people are being pointed north to Pearl River County. Dee Lumpkin, the county's deputy director at Civil Defense, said they are seeing the road flooding expected with a wind from the southeast in the low-lying areas. A curfew will go into effect at 8 tonight. Lumpkin also stressed that residence who have evacuated the area wait until an all-clear is given by county officials, who will have to make sure ingress routes are safe for folks to return.


Don Hammack

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

Sara Greer

Sara Greer is a news assistant for the Sun Herald.

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   •  Singing River Electric update
   •  Red Cross care sites
   •  If the hurricane diet hasn't quite worked...
   •  Doctors' offices opening
   •  A new day...
   •  Weekend Mass schedule
   •  President/Silver Slipper Casino info

   •  August 2005
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