[The following is a press release from the American Red Cross.]
Here is the latest update on Tropical Storm Barry and the Red Cross response in Mississippi.
At 11:00 a.m. today (Sunday), three shelters remain open in Mississippi in Kiln (Hancock County), Hattiesburg (Forrest County) and Laurel (Jones County) with a population of 40.
Additional shelters remain on standby in Clarksdale (Coahoma County), Greenville (Washington County), Hazelhurst (Copiah County), Vicksburg (Warren County) with Red Cross volunteers and supplies pre-staged to respond if local Emergency Managers make the call to open one or more of them. Other Red Cross resources are staged to support a shelter in Marion County if needed.
As of 10 a.m. Sunday, Tropical Storm Barry is moving north through western Louisiana. The National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts that Barry will move across Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas over the next two days and continue to pose a threat for severe weather including storm surges, heavy rains in already saturated areas, and the potential for hail, damaging winds and tornadoes. While the wind threat to Mississippi is reduced, the storm is still producing large amounts of rain and the NWS continues to warn of life-threatening flash flooding east and south of the storm. So the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Red Cross remain on alert prepared to respond to flooding or tornados.
Spotty power outages have been reported but crews are responding quickly.
Mississippi Red Cross leadership continues to remain in contact with our colleagues in Louisiana and throughout the Southeast and Caribbean Division, ready to move quickly to support Louisiana or other areas impacted by Barry, just as they have been on standby to support Mississippi.
Although a full team of shelter managers and workers is on alert and sufficient to meet our needs, additional volunteers continue to be recruited and a shelter fundamentals training class is scheduled for 2 p.m. today in the Flowood office. Classes for new volunteers were also conduced last week in Gulfport and Hattiesburg. If needed, these newly recruited and trained volunteers will be assigned to work alongside veteran volunteers to gain experience as we move deeper into the tropical storm/hurricane season.
Our Red Cross disaster program managers remain in contact with county emergency managers throughout the day and monitor WebEOC (internal website that includes real-time reports on road closures, power outages, damage assessment and other critical information from local officials) and we continue to brief elected officials and the media.
Red Cross Mississippi was monitoring this storm for almost a week as it made its way down to the Gulf Coast then intensified and turned back towards Louisiana and Mississippi. Statewide phone calls were initiated as well as Divisional calls in order to coordinate both within Mississippi as well as our neighboring states to ensure proper distribution of resources both human and material. Preparedness messaging was shared via social media as well as television and press releases. Conversations took place with government officials at the state as well as county level to identify pre-landfall shelters based on at-risk communities. Similar conversations were had with key partners like the NAACP. Eight shelters were identified with a capacity of 2800. Plans were made to move workers and shelter supplies to those shelters ahead of the storm.
Red Cross will continue to monitor this storm and related impacts, over the next 24-36 hours and stay prepared to respond to any sheltering needs. Red Cross will continue to assess needs during this time and respond accordingly with the human and material resources to meet critical disaster caused needs throughout the state.