Biloxi saddles up for new season, new challenges

Biloxi has more than 2,000 trailers and campers temporarily housing residents and thousands of volunteers in town, so having a timely flow of storm and flood information will be vital this hurricane season, Mayor A.J. Holloway told city department directors and key personnel Wednesday afternoon during one of the city’s storm preparation meetings.

“We told the national media repeatedly that Katrina wasn’t our first rodeo, but we were hoping that it would be the largest we’d ever see,” Holloway told the group of two dozen city mid-level managers. “We all know it won’t be our last, though. I’m proud of all of the work that all of you and all city departments have done and continue to do, and now I’m telling you to get ready again.”

Holloway and Director of Administration David Staehling said that the city was better prepared than at any other time when Katrina struck Aug. 29.

“We had out temporary debris removal contract in place before the storm, we hit the ground running on that front, and, of course, we had the $10 million business interruption insurance policy in effect, too,” Staehling said. “We look to have all of those things in place again this year, although we may have difficulty getting the business interruption policy for another $92,000 this year.”

City personnel reviewed plans for staging emergency vehicles and heavy equipment in safer areas, arranging for post-storm fuel and other supplies, updating contact information for key personnel, and discussing evacuation routes with only two of three bridges available on the Biloxi peninsula.

“The most important thing,” city Emergency Management Coordinator Linda Atterberry said, “will be to provide timely evacuation information. If we’re in the probability cone, we’re looking to issue a voluntary evacuation 72 hours out, a mandatory evacuation for Zone A and low-lying areas 48 hours out and a mandatory evacuation for Zone B 36 hours out.”

As many as five shelters could open in Biloxi, depending on the severity of a storm, but public transportation would be announced for those without a means of travel to out-of-town shelters. Additionally, contraflow plans on major roadways would be announced earlier than usual.

“People won’t have to be told twice to evacuate,” Holloway said, “but it’s vital that the word go out earlier, considering the many factors we face.”

Storm information now online

The City of Biloxi has a wealth of storm preparation info online now. To see it, visit