Katrina closes on Mississippi coast

(Gulfport, Miss.-AP) August 29, 2005 - Hurricane Katrina threatened coastal Mississippi on Monday with winds of 135 miles an hour and a storm surge that had already covered US Highway 90, the major east-west route along the beach.

Powerful bands of wind and rain arrived on the coast Sunday night and strengthened with each passing hour. In addition, torrential rains threatened to flood rivers and streams.

The rising water and wind pushed sailboats onto U-S 90 in Harrison County. Portions of the highway were flooded and water continued to rise. Street lights on the route twisted in the wind while highway signs fluttered wildly.

Rescue workers in Gulfport braved today bursts of heavy rain and wind to rescue several adults and children from a duplex after Katrina's winds ripped the roof from a nearby structure and slammed it into their apartment. No injuries were reported.

Gulfport's Central Fire Station was closed after the winds tore off bay doors and caused some structural damage. Nearby, a utility pole dangled by its wires.

Water pushed over the beach all along the coast and continued to rise.

In Hancock County, the westernmost of Mississippi's three coastal counties, water surged over the beach and onto Beach Boulevard and continued to rise.

President Bush authorized an emergency declaration for Mississippi.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will mobilize equipment and resources necessary to protect public health and safety by assisting law enforcement with evacuations, establishing shelters, supporting emergency medical needs, meeting immediate lifesaving and life-sustaining human needs and protecting property.

The declaration was for the counties of Covington, Forrest, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lamar, Marion, Pearl River and Stone. Brown said additional counties may be added after further evaluation.

The National Weather Service said that after Katrina moves into southeast Mississippi on this afternoon, the storm should continue tracking north through east central Mississippi on tonight.

(Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved.)