Hurricane season begins; county prepared

Published 12:21 am Monday, June 1, 2009

NATCHEZ — A year wiser, and more technologically prepared, Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens said the county is ready to take on the 2009 hurricane season.

“When Gustav came along, I was a six-month rookie,” Owens said of his position as the civil defense director. “I admit it, I made of lot of mistakes. And I’ve learned from my mistakes.”

The season opens today, and Owens is already quoting MEMA hurricane literature.

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“The first 72 is on you,” Owens said in reference to hurricane self-preparedness.

Already urging the stocking up of water, canned goods and medications, Owens said residents need to be self-sustainable for the first three days after a major disaster.

But the county has more ways to help out the masses this hurricane season.

The first example is the newly installed CodeRED Weather Warning System the county adopted earlier this year.

“It’s an awesome system,” Owens said.

Available to city and county residents, the telephone system allows anyone to sign up online at

Once registered, residents will receive weather warning calls before inclement weather strikes.

The system was adopted by the Adams County Board of Supervisors in March, and it was put in place April.

Already it’s been put to good use, Owens said.

The severe weather at the beginning of May was one of the first opportunities to disseminate a warning.

“I had a gentleman call me from St. Mary (Basilica) saying that everybody’s phones were going off, and they got everybody down to the basement of the church,” Owens said when the storm struck.

Though the phone can currently only warn of impending weather, Owens said he hopes in the coming years the program will be expanded to allow for dispersal of information such as availability of water and ice in the event of a major storm.

Also, using hazardous mitigation money from Homeland Security grants, Owens has been able to purchase several new generators.

Five in all were purchased, and through an inter-local agreement between the city and the county, two went to Natchez Water Works for lift stations and three were kept in the county.

“The county will have three for shelter uses and for any other things that we may need them for,” Owens said.

And a tornado siren will soon be installed in the Washington area.

Owens is also working on another grant to receive four more sirens.

“It’ll be late in the hurricane season,” Owens said before they will arrive.

But once they do, he said they’ll more than likely be placed in the Cloverdale, Broadmoor, Sibley and Kingston areas.

And while the National Weather Service, has predicted a relatively normal season with nine to 15 named storms, four to seven hurricanes and one to three major hurricanes, Owens said he’s ready for anything.

“I’m very, very, very much more confident in our county’s and city’s resources,” he said.