Sep. 14--Gov. Tate Reeves said Sunday residents in flood-prone areas in South Mississippi need to already have plans in place to shelter elsewhere when Tropical Storm Sally makes landfall, likely on Tuesday morning, as a hurricane.
"If you live in low-lying areas, the time to get out is early tomorrow (Monday) morning," Reeves said during press conference. "Do not try to get out at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning on Tuesday. At that point, it's gonna be too late.
Shortly after the press conference, the Hancock County Emergency Management Agency issued the first mandatory evacuation in South Mississippi, for low-lying areas of the county and those living on any body of water or in mobile homes. The Kiln Shelter at 18320 Highway 43 will open at 7 a.m. Monday.
With as much as 24 inches of rain possible in spots, there will be a "significant need" for search and rescue, Reeves said. However, residents should plan ahead to avoid endangering the lives of first responders.
"We are going to have teams to assist, but we want to minimize the amount of time and the amount of rescues if at all possible -- so that we (don't) put those men and women in harm's way."
The governor has declared a state of emergency in Mississippi and said he has applied for federal assistance with President Donald Trump for additional aid.
So far, emergency managers in South Mississippi have not issued any mandatory evacuations, but that decision is expected to be made by Monday morning.
The state is expected to be inundated with rainfall as a result of the storm, particularly in Hancock, Harrison, and Pearl River counties, he said, with 10 inches of rain forecast over widespread areas -- including as far north as Hattiesburg -- that could lead to significant flooding throughout the state.
"It is anticipated that regardless of where the storm makes landfall that we're going to see significant rainfall throughout our state," likely over the next 72 to 96 hours.
The storm is likely to spawn tornadoes as well that could result in additional threats to safety and lead to other destruction in Mississippi.
"This particular storm has a high probability of tornadoes spinning out of it," Reeves said the weather service told him.
Greg Michel, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said at the press conference he has been in constant contact with South Mississippi emergency mangers.
In addition, he said he spoke with Ken Graham at the National Hurricane Center to talk about the predicted 7-11 foot storm surge at high tide along with heavy rain.
"That means that the storm surge and high tide are only going to work against one another and you are going to have a large amount of storm surge," he said.
He said as much of 15 inches of rain could follow that would only dump into the storm surges, increasing the risk of additional flooding.
Residents in flood-prone areas who do evacuate are adding additional risks.
"That's putting your life in danger," National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Gilmore said on Facebook Live, "(and) that's putting people that would come rescue you in danger"
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