Biloxi orders evacuation of harbors

It’s official: Gordon is expected to make landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast on Tuesday night, and the National Weather Service has issued a hurricane warning, with the possibility of hurricane-force winds expected begining late Tuesday afternoon.

All vessels in Biloxi’s four harbors and marinas, about 300 craft in all, have been ordered to evacuate the harbor by 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Biloxi Port Division Manager Larry Sablich said that nearly two-thirds of the vessels at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor had already heeded the notice, and others were moving from the adjoining commercial harbor, Point Cadet Marina, and the Sherman L. Canaan Back Bay Fishing Docks.

“Our Emergency Managers are being told to expect tides 2 to 3 feet above normal and a 6-foot storm surge,” Sablich said. “Ordering an evacuation was the prudent thing to do. We need to make sure boat owners know the potential for damage, and at the same time we’re protecting the public harbors and marinas from damage. We’re seeing good cooperation.”

“We’re asking people to do the same things that we’re doing: prepare,” said Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich. “There’s no reason to be alarmed. We’re being told to expect rain and wind, and we’re preparing accordingly. We expect our citizens to be doing the same.”

Among the suggestions: Store lawn furniture, trash cans and other objects that can become projectiles. Continue to monitor weather reports and follow advice of authorities. Review your storm plan.

The city is also expected to see road closures, primarily in low-lying areas such as near the Cedar Lake Bridge, as tides began to rise.  The city plans to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday.

Bridge tenders at the Popp’s Ferry bridge, meanwhile, planned to open the bridge as needed to allow groups of vessels to pass. Parks & Recreation workers will be picking up trash cans from parks throughout the city Tuesday morning, and Public Works laborers were expected to be clearing storm drains and catch basins, and helping prepare city facilities.

The city’s infrastructure contractors, Oscar Renda and Hemphill, had been notified to secure their work areas.

“Just keep up to date on the weather reports and do common-sense things to prepare,” Gilich said. “We’re confident everyone will do their part.”

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