City prepares for weekend of rain, gusty wind

Biloxi Public Works crews are cleaning storm drains and catch basins along Pass Road and on city streets prone to flooding as the city prepares for a weekend of rain and wind spawned by a meandering tropical storm in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The National Weather Service upgraded Tropical Depression 13 to Tropical Storm Lee this afternoon, and storm warnings continue for coastal Mississippi and Louisiana. The storm could dump as much as 18 inches of rain over the next four to five days, and produce tropical storm force winds of 40 to 50 mph winds by Saturday night.

“We’re asking residents to do the same things that we’re doing: Prepare for heavy rainfall and winds,” said Mayor A.J. Holloway, who was briefed at noon by the Sgt. Milton Houseman, the city’s emergency manager. “We’re asking residents to take steps now, before conditions deteriorate.”

Said Houseman: “This will be an extreme multi-day rain event, and there will be issues with localized flooding We’re looking at four to five inches of rain a day, which means any drainage systems will be challenged, and we’ll see issues with street flooding in low-lying areas.

“The good news is that at this time, with the projections we’ve seen, we don’t expect any issues with river flooding because the rivers are low.”

Residents throughout the city should pick up any litter or debris on or near their property that could clog storm drains. Residents should also secure lawn furniture or other objects that could cause damage in high winds.

“These are common-sense things that you ought to be doing now,” Holloway said. “We’re not overreacting or underreacting. We’re being prudent. We’re doing things to minimize damage.”

In the Biloxi Police Department, all officers have been notified to be available to report to duty on two hours notice should they be needed; small boats and four-wheel drive vehicles have been positioned on both sides of the bay; and barricades have been pre-positioned near low-lying, flood-prone streets.

Members of the Biloxi Fire Department also have taken steps as part of their storm plan. “The biggest thing is to do things now that we would not be able to do when the weather picks up,” Fire Chief David Roberts said. “We’ve moved the fire boat to a more secure location, so it could be ready on a moment’s notice. We’ve checked generators at stations and in equipment. We do these things so that we’ll be ready to respond to any situation.”

Weather info online

The briefing: To see a detailed briefing on the weather system, click here.

The other info: To see live radar, satellite images, forecasts and advisories, as reported on the Biloxi National Weather Service page, click here.

Storm center: To visit the city’s online Storm & Flood Preparedness section, click here.