Fifty mile per hour winds were reported in Meridian as Tropical Storm Fay moved across east Mississippi and west Alabama. Fay also brought as much as 6 to 10 inches of rain to parts of the area. Fay gave local emergency officials a chance to practice.
LEMA Director David Sharp said, "We exercised some of our volunteers coming in and getting everything ready to start taking phone calls if need be. A lot of the fire departments and our personnel, also, got an opportunity to get their saws out and check them and make sure that everything was like it needed to be...just kind of an early season check of what could be a reality later on.
Local officials prepared as they would if a major hurricane moved into the area, and things went smoothly. Both the City of Meridian Homeland Security Department, which handles emergency operations for the city of Meridian, and the Lauderdale Emergency Management Agency say they had good practice runs with Fay..... and now they're gearing up for possible impact from Hurricane Gustav.
City of Meridian Homeland Security Director "Bunky" Partridge said, "We're getting material, equipment, supplies, everything ready in case we're deployed down to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, or to Florida, or to Louisiana, wherever the hurricane might come in. We are preparing ourselves for that."
So as Hurricane Gustav continues to churn, what should you be doing?
"Bunky" Partridge said, "My recommendation right now is just keep an eye on the weather. You don't want people to start panicking, you don't want then to start buying everything off the shelves right now, but just watch the weather and be aware of what's going on. Medications and stuff like that, that you know you might need to get refilled. Know that your power might go off for a couple days, just be thinking ahead."
David Sharp said, "Checking their safety list, make sure that if they've got a generator make sure that it's running properly. If not, now's the time to go buy one. If you're gonna buy one this year, don't wait until after the storm hits and the stores get flooded with people looking for them. Make sure you've got your water, your canned goods, extra medicines...just safety check sheets."
That check list, as well as hurricane tracking maps and other information on tropical storms and hurricanes, can be found online at our Online Hurricane Center.