Update: Gulfport mayor declares state of emergency

Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes has declared a state of emergency because of what the city called "today's unprecedented weather event," with rainfall totals of more than 10 inches Thursday morning and more rain still expected.

"Monitoring the storm since early this morning, our crews are at work responding to storm drain blockages, water rescues, road closures, and emergency calls," a news release from Hewes's office said. "If you are experiencing or are aware of situations needing critical attention, please call 311 for non-emergencies, and 911 for emergencies.

"We urge citizens to continue to use extreme caution, and not venture out unless necessary."

Gulfport High School officials closed the school Thursday at 11:30 due to construction that is causing some heavy flooding.

The school was one of many areas impacted by the heavy rain's Thursday morning.

Keesler Air Force Base was temporarily on lock down early Thursday Biloxi Police said. Traffic was backed up at the Pass Road and White Avenue gates as a result.

Harrison County Fire Chief Pat Sullivan also has reported a house fire started by a lightning strike.

About 8,000 residents in Harrison County were experiencing power outages, according to the outage map provided by Mississippi Power. The number was reduced to about 1,700 by mid-morning.

Several schools delayed classes Thursday morning including Gulfport and Harrison County schools. In addition, Biloxi Superintendent Arthur McMillin sent a note to parents saying all tardies and absences Thursday will be excused because of the severe weather. Biloxi schools will dismiss at their regular times, he said in the email.

Students at Long Beach High School had to move their vehicles due to flooding in the school's parking lot. School officials said about 100 cars were moved.

Meteorologist Andrew Ansorge with the National Weather Service in Slidell said the severe weather has moved off shore.

"There's still some rain in western Harrison County that is moving to the east, but the heavy showers from the morning have moved out," he said.

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