All eyes on Marco for now

“Yes, there are two storms out there right now,” Biloxi Emergency Manager Nick Geiser said this afternoon, “and while Laura will be later in the week and is on our minds, we’re focusing on Marco right now.

“People can expect Marco to be another Cristobal for Biloxi, if the current track continues,” Geiser said, referring to a June storm that dumped more than seven inches of rain in Biloxi and closed many of the city’s roadways.

“We’re expecting rain to begin Monday morning and continue in to the night,” Geiser said. “Under the current track, the storm will deliver about two inches, but if it jogs to the east, making it closer to us, we could see six inches of rain.”

Expect winds of 30 to 35 mph, with gusts, beginning Monday afternoon.

“People can expect street flooding, just like we saw with Cristobal,” Geiser said, “and that will be throughout the day Monday and into the night. It’s like you typically see, squalls come in and out, heavy at times.”

All the rain and storm surge – 4 to 6 feet on current path, or 6 to 8 feet with a jog to the east – are expected to flood low-lying streets.

The Biloxi Police Department has extra officers on duty and will heighten patrols in low-lying areas.

“We see the storm moving further to the west,” says Police Maj. Larry Murphy, “but we know to still expect winds and rain, and what we’re concerned about it the storm surge. We have our highwater vehicles positioned, ready to be of assistance if needed to either residents or motorists, especially on Highway 90.”

Meanwhile, nearly all of the 300 vessels moored in Biloxi’s four public harbors and marinas had evacuated by Sunday afternoon. The city on Saturday morning “strongly recommended” that boaters move their craft to safer waters and by the end of the day had upgraded the recommendation to a mandatory evacuation.

“We want to thank all of the boaters for moving their boats,” said Larry Sablich, manager of the city’s harbors, ports and piers. “We’re expecting this storm to be similar to what we saw with Cristobal. It’s not just about damage to these commercial and pleasure craft, but it’s also about protecting the harbors and marinas. One of these boats break loose, it’s trouble all the way around.”

The stream of boats are meant more frequent and longer openings of area bridges, including rare openings of the I-110 highrise over Back Bay Biloxi.

The Popp’s Ferry bridge opened 12 times for 12 boats between 8 and 11 a.m. today, and eight times for 65 boats between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., said bridgetender Ashyln Aguilar.

Said Aguilar: “We group them up when we can to get more of them through.”

The bridge opened 20 times in six hours between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., with one malfunction this afternoon, about 3:30 p.m., causing a slightly delay for motorists.
Latest from the National Hurricane Center
Gallery: The parade of boats at Popp’s Ferry
Video: How to prepare for a storm

Storm news & notes: Schedules, etc.

Schools: Biloxi Public Schools has announced that classes have been canceled for Monday and the plan is to resume Tuesday at scheduled times.

City Council: The Biloxi City Council is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. to declare a state of emergency.

City employees: All city employees should report to work at their usual time on Monday. For scheduling updates, call the city info line at 228-435-6300.

Be in the know: Follow local media for updates. Also, the City of Biloxi info line now has a regularly updated message at 228-435-6300. Follow the city Faceook page for updates. To receive advisories about road closures, text BILOXI to 888-777. Do not give your email address unless you want to receive advisories by email.