Coast Hurricanes Felt Across The State

Hurricane Ivan was much kinder to the Mississippi Coast than to our neighbors in Lauderdale County, three hours away.

That county's emergency management director, Clarence Butler says, "We were expecting maybe tornadoes to spin off of it, but in our area we had the full impact from it - a lot of trees falling down, a tremendous amount of rain."

Butler says Ivan became an inland hurricane with winds clocked at 75 miles per hour.

"Trees were our biggest problem basically all over our county, over 700 square miles of it. It was just as bad in one corner as it was in another."

At the annual Mississippi Emergency Management conference, public safety representatives say Ivan taught a great lesson on how all of the state can be impacted when the tropics heat up.

"Once Ivan made landfall, we kind of dropped our guard down and we actually had more damage in Meridian and Lauderdale County from Hurricane Ivan than we had on the coast, which was something we didn't expect," Mississippi Emergency Management Director Robert Latham says.

Now, Latham says they expect the unexpected, as the state and each county reviews its emergency plans to get them through whatever blows their way.

"Whether it's the impact of the storm, spin off, tornadoes, heavy rains or evacuations, everybody in this state's affected by that."

Along with storm preps, evacuations are also being talked about at the MEMA conference. Latham says they stress that people leave early to avoid major congestion on the roads leading away from the Coast.