Isidore billows in, lashes Gulf CoastLocal shelter opens, then closes as water rises, trees topple

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 26, 2002

American Red Cross Training and Volunteer Coordinator Oscar Barnes Jr. ropes off the staircase aisles to keep potential storm evacuees from climbing the stairs after he and other volunteers set out 30 cots at City Auditorium Wednesday. The shelter was later closed due to lack of evacuees. (The Vicksburg Post/Melanie Duncan)

[09/26/02]With Tropical Storm Isidore hitting the Louisiana coast with less force than had been expected, local emergency officials switched their focus to the accompanying heavy rains.

The City Auditorium was opened for about 6 hours Wednesday as a shelter for evacuees, but went on standby shortly after 8 p.m., after only one person had used the shelter.

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The woman from Indiana was going to Stone County to visit family, but was put in a hotel for the night. Hotels that had been booked through the weekend mostly by Louisiana residents looking to out run the storm reported several cancellations late Wednesday.

“Should the need arrive (for the shelter), possibly from flood victims, we should be able to bounce right back into operation,” said L.W. “Bump” Callaway, director of Warren County Emergency Management.

Warren, Sharkey and Issaquena counties are under a flood watch for the rest of today, and Claiborne and Hinds counties remain under a flash flood warning.

Nearly 2 inches of rain fell on the area between 8 a.m. Wednesday and 8 this morning, according to the official gauge at the Vicksburg Water Treatment plant. Another 3 to 4 inches was predicted today by the National Weather Service in Jackson.

Rain and heavy winds were also being blamed for downed trees across the county and power outages affecting nearly 200 homes along Halls Ferry and Fisher Ferry roads and Pemberton Boulevard. George Cooper with Entergy said emergency workers are in place to handle the outages, but that more are expected as the storm moves north.

“It’s going to be touch-and-go all day,” Cooper said.

Warren County road crews were out before dawn this morning picking up more than a dozen trees and cleaning out drainage ditches getting cloaked with debris. County Road Manager Rhea Fuller said he expects to see more trees down today as rains continue to soak the ground.

“This trend is likely going to continue until this system passes,” Fuller said.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Department worked seven wrecks from 8 a.m. Wednesday to 8 this morning with two minor injuries, said Sheriff Martin Pace. Vicksburg ambulances responded to 4 wrecks with injuries, said Deputy Fire Chief Rose Shaifer.