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Hurricane season is upon us; don’t get caught

We observe all kinds of seasons during the year.

There are, of course, the four seasons that bring with them changes in temperature and our area’s rainy season. We have the Christmas and Easter seasons that bring religious joy and celebration and more temporal festivities.

Then we have one season that brings fear into the minds of many and it has nothing to do with families and gifts.

Hurricane season began Monday, and as former coastal residents, my family began preparations collecting batteries, non-perishable food, water and storing bags of ice cubes in the freezer as a precaution in case we get hit by the remnants of a storm and lose electricity.

Sitting up here in West Central Mississippi, the arrival of hurricane season doesn’t seem like a major event. We’re not on the Coast, where hurricane boards, escape routes, contraflow and survival kits are a must. We’re not subject to the storm surge that affects the residents of Biloxi or Pascagoula or Gulfport. The worst we can get is a little rain and a little wind.

Guess again. As they move inland and weaken, hurricanes can still carry torrential rains and strong winds. Their counterclockwise rotation is known to spawn tornadoes that can be more destructive and deadly than the system producing them.

Over the years I’ve made it a hobby to read about hurricanes. I find them fascinating. It’s amazing to watch a small, almost insignificant low-pressure system slowly build and develop into a massive system of rain, wind and energy and follow its path until it either dies in the ocean or makes landfall. Having lived on the Coast and gone through several storms I feel for the people who are in a storm’s past.

And as for being safe if you live north of the Coast, history shows hurricanes have been known to devastate other areas across the country after leaving coastal areas.

Hurricane Betsy hit New Orleans in 1965, went up U.S. 90 and smacked Baton Rouge with 90 mph winds before turning east to hit several other states. Camille destroyed the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 then moved east to cause severe flooding in West Virginia and other states.

Hurricane Ivan in 2004 came ashore at Alabama, shifted west, followed the Mississippi/Alabama state line and cut across to hit Meridian with 100 mph winds.

When Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, its initial impact was felt as far north as Tennessee and as far west as Baton Rouge.

I’m sure folks living here at the time can remember the storm’s effect. As a resident of Pascagoula at the time, I covered the storm. I recall watching the storm surge come in and the wind ripping the roof of the Jackson County Emergency Management’s Emergency Operations Center.

A hurricane doesn’t have to be a mega-storm to cause damage and pain locally. We are just as vulnerable to damage of these storms as the man with the waterfront property and the great view of the Gulf of Mexico.

So heed the voice of this man crying in the night and get ready. It’s time to prepare.


John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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