Gustav Update 08/31/2008


A hurricane watch is in effect on portions of the northern Gulf Coast including Mississippi.

President Bush has issued pre-landfall Emergency Disaster Declaration for Mississippi which enables federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the potential emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Gustav. Proclamations of Emergency are active for the State of Mississippi as well as Copiah, Wilkerson, and Pike Counties. The State Emergency Operations Center is active. MEMA and FEMA are sending folks, readying resources, and working closely with county and local leaders.

Gov. Haley Barbour issued mandatory evacuations for Harrison and Hancock counties beginning Sunday morning for people living the following:

  • FEMA travel trailers.
  • FEMA mobile homes.
  • Mississippi Cottages.
  • Residents in designated flood hazard zones.

Contraflow began at 4 a.m. Sunday. Contraflow is currently planned as follows:

  • I-55 Louisiana to Brookhaven
  • I-59 Louisiana to Poplarvilleschool districts will be closed on Tuesday.

All schools in Harrison County’s five public school districts will be closed Tuesday.

We continue to work diligently with preparedness efforts. Some conference staff are working through the weekend and we are working closely with district disaster response coordinators including daily conference calls starting earlier today. There are early response team folks in place and our district coordinators are preparing. We are in touch with UMCOR at the national level, and UMVIM at the jurisdictional level, as well.

We are having daily conference calls with Mississippi Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (MS VOAD) and the National Weather Service to keep apprised of the track of the storm and to see what our partners throughout the state are doing. Conference calls within the conference staff and with our partner organizations will continue daily. 

The conference will be in regular contact with the impacted districts. At the request of the districts, the conference will help. At the request of the conference, both the jurisdictional and national UMCOR and UMVIM resources will respond. A pre-emptive invitation to UMCOR national is in place so national consultants can be here quickly after any impact. 

The conference emergency operations center will be located at the conference office with a secondary location of Meridian if weather dictates a change in location.

Disasters are always local. Continue preparations.Please make sure you have accessed the “Disaster Prep Top 10” sheet and prepared at your local churches. Also, refer to for the best information for making sure you and your household are ready for whatever may come. 

Keep an eye on the conference website for updates. Stay tuned to your local weather forecasts, heed instructions, and practice safety.

Gustav has developed into a major hurricane about which most meteorologists are concerned. It is currently a category 3 hurricane with wind speeds of 115 MPH. Landfall is still predicted for the central coast of Louisiana. It could still land as a catastrophic category 5 hurricane. We could start seeing rain bands and winds tonight on the coast with that continuing up into the area of Greenwood through Hattiesburg and south. The associated weather will move through the areas primarily through Wednesday.

Please remember: This storm could hit the coast of Louisiana and travel right up into South Mississippi. In other words, we could be looking at a possible hurricane disaster on the coast or perhaps straight line winds/tornado damage widely in other parts of the state or both. Remember, the east side of hurricanes is where the damage is done.

 We are still in the cone. Mississippi remains in the cone of possible landfall if the storm jogs right. This is not to alarm, but to remind you about preparedness.  

if you are opening a shelter, please contact us as soon as possible with the location, contact person, telephone number and a 24-hour emergency contact. It does not matter if it is a Red Cross shelter.

Have a plan in place – with a back-up – to contact loved ones regarding your welfare and whereabouts after impact. Take many and good pictures of any damage. Practice safety.

Pastors, contact your district office as soon as possible after the impact.

If you are interested in helping, there are some key ways to do so:

  • Continue praying.
  • Take a special offering and send to the conference office.
  • Consider how you might gather essentials listed on the website and prepare to get them to points of collection that will be shared.
  • Do not collect or donate clothing and please pass this specific information to others. This creates a significant problem and hinders response. Sell the clothes and send the donation, if you would like.
  • Wait. Please wait for things to clear and do not go uninvited to the coast. Please be patient. There will be ways to help.