The Aftermath of Gustav

11:00 AM Tuesday
Light Rain.
Gustav has passed and now comes the recovery. Mark and I (Traci) were finally able to get over the I-110 bridge back into Biloxi to assess the damage to the ULM Relief site and the Biloxi area. The authorities only lifted the curfew this morning, so all day yesterday people were encouraged to stay in shelter.

The ULM Relief site held up well and we were reminded how important it is to be proactive and not reactive. Both the large supply tent and kitchen tents were dropped in preparation for the storm, and now comes the arduous task of putting them back up. The kitchen tent takes about 10 people and a forklift to restore, while the large supply tent takes a crane and at least 10 people to put back up. The site didn’t flood, and the vehicles and park model trailers suffered no debris damage. Power was back on this morning, so the refrigerated and frozen foods did not spoil.

The Biloxi area suffered the front eastern quarter of Gustav and while the winds remained under 70 MPH they still caused quite a bit of damage as far as we could ascertain. There were downed trees and debris scattered around most of the roads. Highway 90 in Biloxi is still closed, and I-10 west is filled with vehicles as far as the eye can see coming from Mobile to New Orleans. I-10 East is relatively clear. There are still more than 10,000 people without power in Harrison and Hancock Counties (Coast Electric) and 14,454 without power in Biloxi (Mississippi Power). This means that about 25,000 people have no refrigerators (the food they had probably spoiled by now) and no ability to cook.

Many evacuees are starting the journey home, and our prayers are with them for their safety and the patience level necessary to deal with the extreme traffic. Businesses are now opening back up and people are removing the boards from their windows. Wal-Mart in D’Iberville was reopened this morning…YEAH!

Since Hurricane Katrina it seems that all storms that bear down on the Gulf Coast are compared to that storm, Gustav was a Category 2 Hurricane with sustained winds of over 115 MPH and did some extremely serious damage. Even in Biloxi we have to remind ourselves that the people that lost their home or a loved one in Gustav are no different than one who has had the same tragic loss from Katrina. We're fortunate that Gustav was smaller than Katrina, it affected far fewer people. For the people Gustav did affect I (Mark) don't believe they they really care about the comparisons being made.

We would like to thank everyone who emailed, called and supported us with their prayers. We would also like to invite and encourage any volunteers to come down and continue in the recovery efforts from both Katrina and Gustav. There is much work to be done.

Persevering Through Gustav

11:45 AM Monday
Windy and Rainy! Concerned but not panicky!
Well the water from the beach has come up to and covered the Highway 90 West bound lanes. If you remember from our relief site, Highway 90 is between the Gulf of Mexico and the back of our site, our Big White Supply Tent is about 800 feet from Highway 90. We’ve been under tornado warnings and watches all morning, with several tornadoes being spotted touching down. Flash flood watches have also been issued, and we can see a current storm surge of about 6 feet where we are taking shelter. The power went off for about 2 hours this morning, and is currently back on. Way to go Power Workers!!!

As of 10PM last night, a city wide curfew has been issued and remains in effect. The radar shows the tail end of the hurricane is approaching, so hopefully we should be out of this in a few hours. We will then wait for the water to recede from the roads so we can get over to the site and assess the damage.

The City of Biloxi has issued the following street closings due to the water surge:
Street closings in Biloxi due to flooding:
---U.S. 90
---First Street, north of Grand Casino.
---Howard Avenue at Pine
---South River Drive
---Brodie Road
---Destiny Plantation to the bridge
---End of Hickman River
--Back Bay Boulevard, east of Boomtown Casino to Oak Street.
---Cedar Lake Road, north of I-10.

Mid-Way Through Hurricane Gustav

8:00 AM Monday Good morning! ULM Relief made it through the night and we are about midway through Hurricane Gustav. Currently we are experiencing a storm surge of about 4 feet with 35 MPH winds and gusts a bit over 50 MPH. More rain is expected today, so the storm surge will probably get higher. There are some feeder bands behind the hurricane that will dump more rain and wind, so we’re not out of the woods yet.

We have ongoing tornado warnings, and one tornado was observed by a Police Officer when it touched down on HWY 49 in Gulfport, MS, it apparently did not do any substantial damage when it landed. There are no major power outages yet, but we have had some flickers. Currently we are under a hurricane warning, and as soon as it changes to a hurricane watch we’ll be permitted better access around Biloxi to assess the damage.

The streets appear clear and there are no vehicles present with the exception of a few Emergency and First Response Vehicles. It would appear that most people took the warnings seriously and have either evacuated or are staying put inside their homes.

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