Preparation Prevents Further Storm Trouble

Meridian, Miss. The roads were treacherous at times and interstates were jammed, but Meridian city leaders say things could have been much worse.

Traffic backed up for miles on gridlocked roads and individuals stranded in airports and stores were a common sight throughout the south this week from the snow and ice. And while Meridian had its own share of danger and confusion, public officials say they're proud of how the queen city handled the chaos.

"That is a nightmare, but we have an emergency operation plan, and we did work close with the school systems, we worked close with the state, close with the national weather service," Director of Public Safety Bunky Partridge says. "So we prepare for the worst and hope for the best."

Meridian Mayor Percy Bland says it was thanks to that plan and a lot of cooperation through the departments that the city was able to remain pretty unscathed through the worst of the weather.

"Of course, there was great coordination with our team here led by Mr. Partridge and we had planned for those events," Mayor Bland says. "We talked about them in our staff meetings. There was great coordination between his department, public works, our police and fire departments and some other agencies."

But when it comes to being prepared for the worst, Public Works director Hugh Smith says it was experience that helped them out the most. Not from cold and ice, but from a hurricane.

"I'll tell you one of the best teachers that we have is Hurricane Katrina," Smith says. "Surviving that, Meridian fared very well as compared to some of our surrounding neighbors. That was a huge learning curve and since then, I would venture to say that we're pretty much prepared for the worst of it."

The city is waiting on a response from the state to see if workers can receive compensation for all the extra work they've put in.