Hancock County Prepared for Hurricanes with Five New Shelters, Vans and Lessons from KatrinaBy Rhonda Miller | Published 10 Jun 2011 12:01am |
As the Gulf Coast moves into hurricane season, Hancock County is opening five new shelters and adding buses and vans. As MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports, the county learned some lessons the hard way in Katrina, with 58 deaths and coastal cities demolished.
Waveland Fire Chief Mike Smith says the city thought it was prepared for Hurricane Katrina. But Smith says he and other first responders had to take shelter when the storm surge hit.
"We didn’t expect that, no. Actually, in the fire station I was in, all the firemen were there, it came to five feet in the fire station, so we actually had to evacuate the fire station," Smith said.
In five feet of water, Smith knew being prepared changed with Katrina.
"We went from being rescuers to being victims ourselves. And we lost all our fire trucks, so we had no way to respond in the aftermath," Smith said.
Waveland was obliterated by Katrina.
Now with digital flood maps, the town has a better idea of who will be affected by a storm surge, Smith said.
County-wide, Emergency Mangement Agency Director Brian Adam said Hancock County has five new shelters opening within the next few weeks. Adam said another major improvement is transportation to get people to the shelters.
"We didn’t have vans, we would borrow school buses," Adam said. "We have more buses and we have vans now, plus we have a transportation director to oversee transportation."
When it comes to evacuation, Cheryl Kring has a plan. She’s lived a block from the beach in Waveland almost her entire life. She lost her childhood home in Hurricane Camille and her home in Katrina. She’s packed and ready to evacuate.
"Of course, all the important papers, the Bible, you always take your Bible. I plan on grabbing as much as I can and throwing it in the truck and going," Kring said.
Kring said she’s learned a lesson from losing everything twice. No matter what, when the hurricane is over, she’ll be back on her treasured piece of ground, one block from the beach in Waveland.
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