Pine Belt prepares for tropical weather

Pine Belt prepares for tropical weather

PINE BELT (WDAM) - With bad weather looming over the Pinebelt heading into the Memorial Day weekend, cities and counties are on standby for the worst.

According to Forrest County Emergency Management, you can get sandbags at the Forrest County EOC (4080 US Hwy 11 in Hattiesburg), at Fire Station No. 1 (810 N Main Street in Hattiesburg) and at Petal Fire Station No. 1 (Fairchild Drive in Petal).

EMA directors such as Gerry Burns with Perry County Emergency Management said while they're getting ready, you have to make sure you are ready at home.

"Flooding, I think, is going to be our biggest issue," Burns said.

He said all crews, including the fire and police departments, will be on hand for the weekend.

"We're prepared for the worst and hopes for the best," Burns said.

If the winds pick up, Burns said residents should expect power outages, heavy debris and even downed trees.

Even though all crews will be on hand, if the weather gets bad enough, crews will be spread thin and residents need to be prepared until emergency crews arrive.

"The biggest problem with flooding is that a lot of people will wait until the water has reached a certain level in their area and then they'll decide to move," said Burns.

Wherever you are in the Pine Belt, it's a waiting game until the rain starts. Until then, residents can keep their eye on several updates throughout the weekend through social media.

"You'll see sandbags being prepped by the public works crews and grounds crews," said Hattiesburg Chief Communications Officers Samantha McCain. "Forrest County Emergency Operations, we'll be working with them.  [There will be] briefings through the weekend, as well as our police and fire and first responders. All of that is a joint effort in making sure the public is safe."

Burns said having your emergency kit is the first step to stay safe, but he encourages people to get started as soon as possible.

"Get it together. get it together, now," he said. "Tonight, go to the store tonight. Tomorrow, the Wal-Marts are going to be swamped but get that hurricane preparedness kit together."

Burns said that hurricane season lasts six months throughout the year, but it's important to have a kit prepared and fully stocked at all year.

To prepare for Hurricane weather he suggested the following:

  • Keep your vehicle up to maintenance and park on higher grounds
  • Have flashlights and several batteries on hand
  • Keep a first aid kit nearby
  • Store plenty of water and canned and dry foods
  • Keep a chainsaw to remove any tree limbs or branches until emergency crews arrive
  • Have a tent and a sleeping bag ready in case you get misplaced from your home
  • Make sure you have a weather radio nearby
  • Keep a generator for power outages

Burn also suggested that a kit should be fully stocked to support a family for up to three to five days, and it's about making sure your family stays protected.

"It's all about self-preservation," he said. "People need to take responsibility to make sure their family is safe."