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City, county officials on Delta: ‘We’re waiting for it’

Hurricane Delta is still in the Gulf of Mexico, but city and county officials are preparing for a major assault from the storm over the weekend.

Delta, the 25th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, is expected to make landfall on the Louisiana coast between Morgan City, La., and Lake Charles early Friday afternoon. Its path will take it into Mississippi and near Vicksburg by 7 a.m. Saturday. Its winds are presently 85 mph, but the storm is expected to strengthen before making landfall.

A hurricane watch has been issued for the Gulf coast from High Island, Texas, eastward to Grand Isle, La.

According to graphics from the National Hurricane Center, Warren County has about a 60 percent chance of tropical-storm-force winds between 39 and 74 mph, and the potential for 6-10 inches of rain. Tropical storm force winds will arrive in the area by late Friday afternoon.

John Elfer, Warren County Emergency Management director, said residents can expect to see from 2 to 6 inches of rainfall and winds up to 60 mph.

“That means we can expect to have downed trees and some downed power lines,” he said.

Elfer believes the storm may shift some before it makes landfall, adding, “I think it may shift a little east and that would be in our favor. But I’m sure Friday and Saturday we’ll see some rain, at least.

“The takeaway is this; we could see heavy rain, we could see some gusty winds which is going to result in some trees down and we’ve already got some damaged roads,” Elfer added.

Elfer reminded residents to have a good weather warning system, pay attention to the weather changes and have shelter plans in place.

“Don’t wait until the end of the week,” he said, adding now is the time for people to make sure their disaster kits are fully stocked and they have medicine; working alert systems such as a weather radio; cash; a way to charge their cellphone if the lights go out; and a way to cook. Canned foods and non-perishables are the best food to have on hand in case of extended power outages.

For tips on what to include in a disaster kit, visit the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency website at www.msema.org

W.L. Sanders, traffic supervisor for the city of Vicksburg, said preparations for Delta are under way at his department.

“I’ve got a guy making extra signal heads right now at the shop,” he said. “He’s making the extra signal heads in case any get knocked down we’ll have some spares. We’re going to be gassing up all of the vehicles and chainsaws, making sure the saws are ready to go.”

Sanders said street closure barricades are ready to go and are already loaded on a trailer.

“We’re on call 24/7, but usually when the storm comes up I’ll wind up hitting the road and I’ll be out in it and then I can call my guys out depending on what happens,” he said. “Hopefully, it won’t be as bad as they think, but we have to be ready just in case.”

Warren County Road Manager Jamie Cain said his crews will be paying close attention to the county’s flood-prone areas.

“We’ve got a foreman on call 24/7 and we’ve got our equipment placed in different areas of the county where we can get to it and we have the crews that will be needed on standby,” Cain said. “We’re waiting to see what happens.”

Vicksburg Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman said the city’s crews are ready for the storm.

“We’re waiting on it,” he said. “We’ll wait and see what happens.”

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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