Pine Belt agencies preparing for possible tropical conditions

Updated: Jul. 10, 2019 at 8:52 PM CDT
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JONES COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - Preparations are underway. Pine Belt agencies have all hands on deck watching the latest tracks in the Gulf of Mexico. Jones County Emergency Operations Center are speaking out about what they are doing to prepare.

"Make sure we have fuel for all of our generators, make sure we have our back ups in place and make sure our shelter is ready to go should we need to open it for an evacuation shelter," said Jones County Emergency Operations Center Executive Director Paul Sheffield. "Or just a safe place should we go under severe weather watches."

Local emergency operation centers are waiting, watching and preparing. Sheffield said his team has a plan in place and is coordinating with local, state and federal agencies.

"Emergency management is a coordination piece," said Sheffield. "We are kind of the hub that keeps everybody moving. We are making sure the responders have what they need to accomplish their goals. That's what we are here for and that's what we are going to do."

Because the system is forming close to the coast right now, Sheffield said preparation time is reduced. As he looks at models he said this scenario is rare.

"I have been in emergency management now for 17 years," said Sheffield. "I have been in public safety since 1998. This is the first time I can ever remember a storm coming off the continental U.S. and developing into a tropical entity."

As for the shelter on Ellisville Boulevard, Sheffield said it will only open if the county is under a severe thunderstorm, tornado, tropical storm or hurricane watch or warning.

Sheffield said if needed, the shelter could possibly house people evacuating from other areas impacted by the storm.

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