High gasoline prices must not delay anyone in the path of a Gulf Coast hurricane from evacuating.
Mississippi and Alabama officials made the comments Wednesday at a storm preparations conference in Mobile.
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Womack said he doesn't think anyone who lived through Hurricane Katrina in 2005 will delay evacuating, even if gasoline prices continue to soar and they face bumper-to-bumper traffic in a mass exodus.
Alabama Gov. Bob Riley agreed, adding that tourists on Gulf beaches also must not wait until the last hour to evacuate just to keep a hotel room. Riley said hurricane forecasts have become so refined that people watching them believe they can continue vacations until a storm nears landfall before evacuating.
FEMA's southeast region director, Ginger Edwards of Atlanta, said her agency, under a new initiative, is prepared to send a 15-member "instant management" team to an area in the hurricane's path.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November.