Evacuees Urged to Head North, Use Alternate Routes

All Mississippi Gulf Coast evacuees were urged by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to evacuate northbound and use the following highways for evacuation:

U.S. 49 North
Miss. Highway 15
Miss. Highway 57
Miss. Highway 63
Miss. Highway 67

Motorists traveling eastbound on Interstate 10 and U.S. 90 experienced major traffic delays.

Mississippi Department of Transportation officials said the average speed for motorists on these two highways as of late Sunday afternoon was less than 20 mph.

The average speed for motorists along U.S. 49 was 72 mph and along Interstates 55 & 59 the average speed was 50 mph.

Interstate 10 was closed for any additional eastbound traffic from Slidell, La. Law enforcement officials are now manually controlling all traffic signals along U.S. 49 from Gulfport to Jackson.

Additional evacuation traffic will be posted on MEMA’s Web site at www.msema.org as information is received.

Six Mississippi counties issued either mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders over the weekend. That included residents of George, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River and Stone Counties.

President Bush approved Gov. Haley Barbour’s request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration that will pay 75 percent of costs associated with emergency protective measures and debris removal for the following counties: Covington, Forrest, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lamar, Marion, Pearl River and Stone.

The National Weather Service predicts that southeast Mississippi could experience winds in excess of 100 mph, and hurricane winds will extend as far north as Columbus. At least 4 to 6 inches of rainfall is expected across the eastern half of Mississippi. There is a risk of tornadoes statewide. The Gulf Coast could experience up to a 30-foot storm surge and possible Category 5 strength winds.

Anyone who lives in a mobile home south of Interstate 20 should seek shelter elsewhere during Hurricane Katrina. There are 42 shelters open and an additional 39 shelters are on standby if needed.

The Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson is a Red Cross shelter. The Red Cross has a reception center at the Madison Wal-Mart parking lot, located just off Exit 108 of Interstate 55. A complete Red Cross shelter list is available on MEMA's Web site at www.msema.org.