By MELISSA M. SCALLAN
PEARL – South Mississippi residents who evacuated from Hurricane Gustav need to wait until at least Tuesday before returning home, Gov. Barbour said today.
He advised people to check with their local emergency management offices before heading back to the Coast because the storm still could cause flooded roads and downed trees, so conditions can still be dangerous.
“There’s still a lot of bad weather on the Coast,” Barbour said at a press conference. “People do not need to go back now. Tomorrow’s going to be the first day you should think about going home.”
Gustav made landfall midmorning near Cocodrie, La., about 70 miles southwest of New Orleans. The storm caused an 8-10-foot storm surge in many areas of the Coast, and many roads are flooded, including U.S. 90 in all three coastal counties.
Barbour said that while weather experts believe most of the heavy wind and storm surge have passed the Coast, rain will continue to be an issue. The southwest part of the state also could receive some bad weather as Gustav continues to move through Louisiana.
Most of the state is under a tornado warning and tropical wind warning, but no tornadoes have been reported. Barbour said there are no reports of injuries or fatalities in the state.
This was the first time the state evacuation plan was enacted, using school buses to evacuate people from South Mississippi to Jackson. There are 106 shelters in the state and about 113,000 evacuees.
“It was extremely well executed.” Barbour said. “Overall, the emergency plans have worked well. There are no reports of arrests due to looting or other illegal activity.”
State Superintendent of Education Hank Bounds said local school districts will decide when to reopen. It will depend on the amount of damage, if power is restored and if there are enough personnel.
“I would anticipate that by midweek we’ll have school opening,” Bounds said.