Gordon passes through county without major incident

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

After making its way across the northern Gulf of Mexico Tropical Storm Gordon made land fall one week ago yesterday and its path steered the storm right through Central Mississippi. On September 5 most people in the local area were busy working but they were keeping a close watch on Gordon as it made its final approach toward the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Local and state emergency management agencies were preparing for the worst because these storms are so unpredictable. Most weather reporting agencies were predicting that the tropical storm was expected to strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall, but those were predictions that never materialized.

The Scott County Emergency Management Agency was paying close attention to all weather forecast and remained in constant contact with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, first responders and schools in order to be overly prepared and ready for anything that Gordon could have brought our way.

“If we are part of the area that will be affected we always prepare for the worst-case scenarios,” said Scott County Emergency Management Director Mike Marlow. “Every time there is a storm threat to our area we prepare in the exact same way so that we are ready for anything that may occur.”

Tropical Storm Gordon appeared to have Mississippi in its crosshairs from the beginning and made a b-line for the Mississippi Gulf Coast after scraping the lower Florida Peninsula. Gordon came ashore during the late evening hours on September 5 just west of the Mississippi-Alabama state line. Its maximum sustained winds reached 70 mph, and along with the rain the storm knocked out power for 3,000 residents in Mississippi, some of which were in southwest Scott County.

The storm was treated as a serious threat, as all tropical storms and hurricanes are, and preparations were made accordingly by EMA. Marlow said, “you can never predict what these storms are going to do and the best advice I can give the citizens of Scott County is to take them seriously and prepare early.”

Barlow says that the first couple of days after a storm hits is the most crucial time for the EMA and citizens alike. “We ask that the public take the initiative to prepare to maintain yourself for at least the first 72-hours following a storm,” he said. “The EMA will be out in the county and available, but we use that first 72-hour window to handle the assessment of damage, conditions and safety concerns all around the county.”

Gordon brought a tremendous amount of rain to the county, but with this storm residents were able to avoid any major catastrophes, injuries or damage in the local and surrounding areas. “The major issues that Gordon caused was flooding in low-lying areas and downed trees all around the county which are things to be expected with a storm like Gordon,” Marlow said.

It would appear that while Mississippi was able to avoid the worst parts of the tropical storm it was the Florida Panhandle that received the brunt of this storms damage and rainfall. Pensacola, FL avoided a direct landfall, but it appears that they received the greatest rainfall totals and the only death contributed to Tropical Storm Gordon. A Pensacola family suffered the loss of their 10-month old child when the mobile home they were in was struck by a large tree limb that fell during the storm.

The EMA works constantly to prepare for storms like Gordon. The agency works year-round in maintaining their lines of communication and working relationships with first responders everywhere throughout the county, the Scott County Sheriffs Department, all city and volunteer fire departments and each and every city, community and municipality within Scott County. “Maintaining great communication with all local officials and first responders throughout Scott County is extremely important to the success of our procedures when emergencies or storms do happen in our area,” Barlow concluded.