Governor: Evacuate trailers, cottages, low-lying areas this weekend; other news and notes

Governor Haley Barbour announced this morning that Katrina victims still living in FEMA trailers, campers and cottages and residents in designated flood hazard zones along Mississippi’s coast should begin evacuating this weekend as Gustav approaches.

Barbour says notices are going out to trailer residents on Saturday.

The Mississippi Army National Guard will launch a door-to-door campaign on Saturday to notify people living in low-lying areas, flood hazard zones, FEMA travel trailers and mobile homes and Mississippi Cottages to seek alternative shelter because of the threat of severe tropical weather.

”There is no question we are taking this storm seriously,” Barbour said, “but there is no need to panic.”

For a map that shows the existing and advisory flood zones in Biloxi — in other words, areas considered the “flood hazard zones” — click here.

This afternoon, the center of Hurricane Gustav was about 125 miles east-southeast of Grand Cayman and 425 miles east-southeast of the western tip of Cuba. The storm, which had winds of more than 70 mph, was moving west-northwest near 8 mph. Tropical storm force winds extended outward up to 140 miles. The storm, which became a hurricane this afternoon, was expected to have a continued northwestward motion Saturday and Sunday, and was expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.

Council approves state of emergency

The Biloxi City Council unanimously voted in favor of declaring that a state of emergency exists in Biloxi as the city continues to prepare for the threat of Tropical Storm Gustav.

The state of emergency declaration gives the mayor authority to make any necessary emergency purchases and take other steps to help protect city property and public safety.

The National Hurricane Center is showing a five-day track that would have the storm coming ashore Tuesday morning on the central coast of Louisiana and moving westward, but the hurricane center cautions that its five-day track bears a degree of uncertainty.

“At this point, our message remains the same,” said Mayor A.J. Holloway. “Continue to prepare for contingencies and monitor news reports. Make sure that your vehicles have fuel. If you don’t have a vehicle, register with Coast Transit at 896-8080. Pick up loose items in your yard, and make sure that your emergency kits are stocked with the necessary items.”

Trailers along rivers ordered to move

City Community Development Director Jerry Creel says that residents who have moved campers along rivers in Biloxi should move those campers now.

”Apparently some folks have moved campers along the river to serve as camps, but, the fact is, this is not allowed and they should be moved now,” Creel said. “We’re getting calls from people who are worried that we may see flooding and these campers will become dislodged.”

More online

For the latest tracking on Gustav, courtesy of the National Hurricane Center, click here.

To see the hurricane center’s hurricane wind probabilities over the next 120 hours, click here.

For storm preparation information, click here.

Key phone numbers

To register with Coast Transit for evacuation transportation, call (228) 896-8080.

The City of Biloxi will provide updated, recorded information on its Storm Info Line at (228) 435-6300.

New video, photos now online

More than 120 people turned out this morning on the Town Green for the city’s memorial observance to mark the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

To read more about the ceremony and to see photos, click here.

To see a video of the 60-minute ceremony, click here.

To see the complete archive of pre- and post-Katrina video and photographs in the city’s online Photo and Video Gallery, click here.

Katrina events on tap for this evening

—‘Katrina & Biloxi’: The City of Biloxi and Cable One, as part of continuing outreach efforts to educate residents about the dangers of storms and flooding, will once again air the award-winning documentary “Katrina & Biloxi” at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on Cable 13. The program will be available for free to all Cable One subscribers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. For more about the 50-minute documentary, click here.

—East Biloxi walk: The Catholic churches of east Biloxi will stage a Katrina Walk again this year to mark the third anniversary of the storm. The 5 p.m. walk will begin at Our Mothers of Sorrows Catholic Church on Division Street and will follow a route that includes Blessed Francis Seelos Catholic Church, Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Church and ending at St. Michael Catholic Church. A decade of the Rosary will be prayed at each church. Transportation will be provided to those unable to walk the route. Details: 435-0007.