MDOT Continues To Fine-Tune Evacuation Plans With Contraflow DrillBy Rhonda Miller | Published 28 Jul 2011 12:52am |
Two months into hurricane season, transportation officials are once again fine-tuning evacuation plans. At the Mississippi Department of Transportation in Hattiesburg Wednesday, MPB’s Rhonda Miller found technology is changing the landscape when it comes to getting coastal residents out of harm’s way.
Radio reports are coming in from crews setting up on ramps along Highway 59 from the Louisiana border, through Picayune and northward. MDOT's District 6 engineer Kelly Castleberry explains this contraflow drill is to reverse traffic so all four lanes head away from a storm.
"Right now, all of the personnel assigned to the task are actually mobilizing to the site. They’re preparing to get the barrels and barricades to close roads off,'" Castleberry said.
Systems analyst Christopher Shields says the state has upgraded dramatically since Hurricane Katrina knocked out power lines, cell phone towers and most forms of contact. Now Shields says MDOT has extensive communications at its fingertips through technology.
"This an interactive Smart Board. It allows us to project our data from one of our laptops or computers or off our network," Shields says. "We can bring up different things we want, we can move it around and if I brought up a map of the district I could also draw on here."
He draws a squiggly line to represent a flooded area, showing how MDOT will have real time updates in an emergency.
District Maintenance Engineer Todd Jordan says now coastal residents have to do their part.
"Be prepared. Look at our evacuation guides that show all of our routes to get north out of harm’s way," Jordan said.
Residents should plan at least two evacuation routes, because of unpredictable situations in a storm, like gridlock or roads blocked by debris or fallen trees.
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