Hurricane Isaac expected to behave as predicted despite delayPublished 10:18am Wednesday, August 29, 2012
By Vershal Hogan and Rod Guajardo
NATCHEZ — Hurricane Isaac’s track toward the Miss-Lou has slowed to a crawl, but when it gets here local emergency officials expect it to behave as previously predicted.
The slow-moving storm, which made landfall, moved offshore and then moved back on land, should arrive in the area in full force sometime in the early afternoon, Adams County Emergency Director Stan Owens said.
When it arrives, residents can expect sustained winds of upwards of 40 miles per hour and 10 inches of rain, Owens said.
The storm was originally expected to arrive in the Miss-Lou around midnight Wednesday, but at 7 a.m. patches of blue sky could be seen. Overnight, only one wind-downed limb was reported in the county, Owens said.
That won’t last all day, however.
“The conditions of the hurricane remain the same, it is just at a later time,” Owens said.
“The track shifted a little more west, and really that probably increases our tornado probability. The further you get away from the eye of the storm, the better chances you have of getting a tornado forming in those rain bands.”
Meanwhile, it’s a matter of waiting. That means the county’s emergency operations center has sent some people home so they can rest.
“We are still looking at an overnight event,” Owens said.
Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said the Adams County Sheriff’s Office has extra personnel on standby for office, dispatch and patrol work, but some of the extra personnel are being held back until the full force of the storm arrives.
“In the height of the storm, we hope to have between 15 and 20 units out, not including Adams County Search and Rescue, who we are working with,” Mayfield said.
“We don’t want to put everybody out there too early where we get to the point where everybody gets out there and gets burned out.”
Deputies will be equipped with chainsaws to clear smaller blockages out of the road, Mayfield said, and will be patrolling in rural areas, taking special note of residents in mobile homes.
Across the river, inmates at Concordia Correctional Facility are working to fill 4,000 sandbags for residents wanting to give their house or business a little extra support.
Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief David Hedrick said residents are encouraged to swing by the prison on Louisiana 15 in Ferriday where inmates will help load the sandbags in their vehicle.
“If there is excessive rain like they’re predicted in the low lying areas, they can use these sandbags to protect their doors,” Hedrick said. “I wish we could give people enough sandbags for them to barricade their whole house, but for now they can get a few to protect what they can.”
Hedrick said his crews spent all day yesterday and this morning double-checking all the generators that power dispatchers and the prisons to ensure they can remain operational in case of power loss.
“We’re ready for this storm and if something else presents itself, we’ll do everything we can to fix it,” Hedrick said. “Whatever we can do to keep the people of this parish safe, we’ll do it.”
Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington said crews are on standby to clear any downed trees that may come with the powerful winds expected from the storms.
“We’re mostly on standby right now and waiting to see what happens,” Ferrington said. “We’re not sure what it’s going to do now, but we’ve got our crews ready.”
Utilities remained largely unaffected by early winds. While 2,000 Adams County residents lost power Tuesday evening due to a downed tree limb, Entergy representative Tim Runnels said only 10 residents in the Natchez area were without power at 9:30 a.m., and only 180 residences in the entire Natchez district, which covers Fayette, Woodville, Gloster, Meadville, Roxie and Bude, were affected.
Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association Spokeswoman Azalea Knight said 118 meters across the association’s nine-county region were out as of 8:30 a.m.
“Right now, it is just sporadic, small outages,” she said. “We don’t expect our bigger outages until later this afternoon and early Thursday.”
Both Runnels and Knight said the companies have scouts and crews standing by as the storm approaches.
Owens said the county has no plans to open emergency shelters at this point, but if residents find themselves in need of shelter because of the storm they can contact the emergency management operation center at 601-442-7021.