MS Governor and MEMA: 'We did not dodge a bullet'

MS Governor and MEMA: 'We did not dodge a bullet'
Debris at the Gulfport Harbor. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Debris at the Gulfport Harbor. (Photo source: WLOX News)

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - "We did not dodge a bullet."

Those are words from Governor Phil Bryant and MEMA Executive Director Lee Smithson, the day after Hurricane Nate made landfall.

"If Nate would have hit us 15 years ago the damage would have been much more extensive," Smithson said.

South Mississippian's have learned a lot since August 29, 2005 when Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

"We have rebuilt the Coast in the aftermath of Katrina higher and stronger, and our people are a lot smarter," Smithson says.

Damage from Hurricane Nate primarily spans the lower three coastal counties. Officials say the worst of the storm was felt in Jackson County. Jackson County recorded a 10 ft. storm surge in the east, and 8 ft. of storm surge in the west side of the county.

From hurricane warnings, the focus has now shifted to damage assessment. Smithson says it could take three to four days to see if South Mississippi meets the $4.5 million federal threshold for a presidential disaster declaration.

Such a move from the federal government would be qualified by significant damage to infrastructure. Smithson stated, "That's roads, bridges, power grids, but even schools, playgrounds, the beach, harbors, piers...all those are included in the public assistance damage assessment."

Though a far cry from Katrina, damage throughout the coast can be seen just by taking a drive down Highway 90.

Several piers on the coast took a beating from the storm surge, gutters are filled with debris and snapped trees covered some roads.

Officials say they are happy to report no loss of life, due in part to the preparation of so many.

Governor Phil Bryant applauds Mississippi residents for their readiness in the wake of the storm.

"I'm extremely proud of the people who live here who understand what this storm could have done. Who paid attention as we called for them to leave, who listened to us as the curfew was put into place," said Bryant.

Copyright 2017 WLOX. All rights reserved.