A coastal flood warning has been in place for the county since early this morning. A warning means flooding is on the way.
For residents without other transportation, officials will provide bus service to the county shelter closest to the residence. To arrange bus transportation to a county shelter, call (228) 466-8234, 466-8235, 466-8236, 466-8238, or 466-8239. Bus service to the shelters will start at 3:00 p.m. today (thursday, Sept. 22) and run until the County announces its end.
If Hurricane Rita continues on the track reported at noon today, tides in the county would run four to five feet above normal from Friday afternoon and into Saturday and winds would rise gradually from tonight and on into Saturday, winds reaching 30 to 40 mph.
"Residents of low-lying areas, mobile homes and tents should reach higher ground now," said Brian Adams, director of Emergency Management. "Those who leave the county should go north and east, such as to Hattiesburg, Laurel or Meridian"
Residents using the county's buses should pack lightly but carry enough basics for at least three days. Bring a pillow, blanket, three days of food and water, medications, toiletries, and clothing. Pets, alcohol, and weapons are not allowed on the buses or in the shelters.
The American Red Cross will keep its shelters in the county open, but Adams urged citizens to leave the county rather than move to local shelters. "Shelters here are less than comfortable and poor sanitation can develoop quickly," Adams said, adding, "Residents who decide to stay in the county, even those who go to local shelters, are risking their health and safety."
Space is available at the Red Cross shelters at AHancock North Central Elementary School in Kiln, Second Street Elementary in Bay St. Louis, and the Charles B. Murray Elementary in Pearlington.