Motorists should expect increased bridge openings

Mayor A.J. Holloway is advising motorists to be aware that the Popp’s Ferry bridge would be opening more frequently this afternoon and Tuesday as vessels begin to seek safer waters in anticipation of rough seas and high winds from Hurricane Ivan.

The National Weather Service at 2 p.m. today reported that the storm was about 70 miles south-southeast of the western tip of Cuba and was moving northwest near 8 mph. Its maximum winds were near 160 mph, with hurricane force winds extending outward up to 105 miles from the center of the storm. The weather service said hurricane watches may be required for portions of the north central and northeastern Gulf of Mexico coast later today or tonight.

The mayor has moved up a special meeting of the City Council from Tuesday to this afternoon at 4 p.m. In addition to formal approval of the ’05 municipal budget already on the agenda, the mayor will ask the City Council to declare a “state of emergency,” which allows him to take extraordinary measures to help prepare for the storm.

The Popp’s Ferry bridge is seeing increased marine traffic already, bridge tenders report, as dozens of vessels begin evacuating their slips at Point Cadet Marina and the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor. As of 2:30 p.m., more than three dozen vessels had passed through the bridge since this morning, a period that usually sees two or three vessels.

Some of the larger vessels in the fishing fleet have begun moving to the Biloxi or Tchoutacabouffa rivers, and the city on Tuesday may institute scheduled openings of the bridge to handle the increased marine traffic.

“Once we get sustained winds of 30 mph those bridges will be locked down and will be open only to vehicular traffic – no boat traffic,” Holloway said, “so it’s important that we get as many as we can through now.”

Monitor the news, review your storm plan

At this point, Holloway said, local residents should continue to monitor local news reports about the storm and heed any warnings from official sources.
“Now is the time to be thinking about your own personal storm plan,” the mayor said. “Do you have adequate supplies, like batteries, canned food and bottled water? Have you placed important papers in a secure location? Have you thought about evacuating to family members homes? Do you have pets that need special attention? Do you have an adequate supply of any prescription medication you need?”

To see some guidelines for how to prepare for a storm, click on the Storm & Flood Preparedness icon on the front page of the city web site.

Community Court postponed

The city has also announced that Tuesday’s session of Community Court is being postponed. Those scheduled to appear will be notified of the new date.