Planning for the Next Evacuation

By: Renee' LaSalle
By: Renee' LaSalle

Officials in Mississippi are looking for ways to make the next hurricane evacuation run more smoothly, and one suggestion from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is causing a bit of a stir.

MEMA is suggesting that during the next evacuation local emergency management agencies close exits ramps along Interstate 59 and Interstate 55. They hope that directing evacuees further north will make for a more favorable outcome than last time.

"If the first wave of people come up here and fill up the rooms and shelters and everything, then those last folks that leave, they don't have any choice but to go further north and the problem is they're trying to go further north when conditions have already gone south on them," said David Sharp, director of the Lauderdale Emergency Management Agency.

Michelle Nevith says the rooms at Budget 8 in Meridian were completely booked two days before Hurricane Katrina made landfall. She says she has mixed feelings about the proposed evacuation plan, but local officials did a good job last time. She say she's sure they'll do the right thing next time as well.

"I guess if they're trying to get more people to come in, that might be a good way, but that's going to cause some problems," said Michelle Nevith, manager of Budget 8 on South Frontage Road.

"If you send them in one direction you're going to have them all crammed up and you're going to have them sleeping on the side of the road, you know, in people's yards, different places like that," said Maranda Dolan of Queen City Truck Stop.

Sharp was quick to point out that this is just a suggestion from MEMA. The final decision will be made by local agencies.

Sharp says several meetings are already scheduled to iron out the kinks in the evacuation plan if local officials choose to use it at all.

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