City departments continue to prepare

Biloxi Police officers have been advised to take care of any personal storm prep issues now in the event they are called into duty over the weekend, and all city departments are continuing to work their respective storm plans as Gustav continues to swirl near Jamaica.

“We’ve addressed the initial phases of our storm plan, fueling vehicles, topping-off in-ground tanks, checking equipment, stockpiling water and MREs, doing the things that we would need to keep going,” said Police Chief Bruce Dunagan. “And now that we’ve done those things, the next step in our plan will depend on what the storm does over the next day or so.”

Dunagan said he hoped residents were continuing to work their family storm plans.

Holloways calls Friday morning meeting of council

Mayor A.J. Holloway has called for the Biloxi City Council to meet Friday at 9 a.m. to ask for a declaration of a state of emergency in Biloxi as the city continues to prepare for a threat from Tropical Storm Gustav.

The state of emergency declaration, part of the city’s storm preparation plan, gives the mayor authority to make any necessary emergency purchases and take other steps to help protect city property and public safety.

A state of emergency is one of the benchmarks used in determining any storm-related expenses that could be reimbursed by the federal government.

Biloxi, incidentally, remains under a state of emergency from Hurricane Katrina since the city is still using temporary wastewater pumps at several beachfront locations.

Latest position, five-day track

At 4 p.m., the center of Tropical Storm Gustav was about 15 miles east-northeast of Kingston, Jamaica, and was expected to cross Jamaica this evening. The storm had maximum sustained winds near 70 mph, and although weakening was expected as it crossed Jamaica, it was expected to strengthen on Friday and Saturday, possible becoming a hurricane.

To see the National Hurricane Center’s hurricane wind probabilities over the next 120 hours, from now through Tuesday, click here.

To see the latest advisories on Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna, currently 260 miles northeast of the northern Leeward Islands, click here.

Meanwhile, looking back since Katrina

Biloxi has issued more than 24,000 permits of one type or another in the 36 months since Katrina, accounting for more than $1.1 billion in total construction. Of that total, 66 percent, or more than $780 million, has been non-casino and non-condominium construction.

Although the city lost 6,000 of its 25,000 pre-Katrina homes and businesses – or about 4,500 homes – only 427 permits for new homes have been issued by the city in the 36 months since Katrina. Total valuation of the permits for new homes was $63.4 million. A total of 488 new apartments have been permitted in Biloxi since Katrina.

The city’s Community Development Department issued the figures on the eve of the third anniversary of Katrina, which takes place Friday.

To read Mayor Holloway thoughts of Biloxi’s state of affairs at the three-year point, click here.