Governor Launches Hurricane Awareness Campaign

Recovery from Hurricane Katrina is still underway and Governor Haley Barbour is looking ahead to this year's storm season.

"The plain truth is we can pray for the best, but we're going to have to prepare for the worst," the governor says.

The governor's new campaign, "Stay Alert, Stay Alive" is designed to help residents do just that.

"The Stay Alert Stay Alive campaign is designed to give people the information they need to make good decisions in advance of a storm."

Governor Barbour says that means taking personal responsibility and preparing early, listening to media reports when hurricanes threaten, knowing evacuation routes and when to get out, and making sure you have a well stocked supply kit.

"Even with all the information and assistance that is available to the public and to everybody, there really is no substitute for awareness and self help," Barbour says.

Of special concern are the 100,000 people who live in trailers. Until May 26th, MEMA will conduct an evacuation transportation survey to pinpoint those people in the six southern counties who need help getting out of harm's way.

MEMA Director Robert Latham says, "And that way we can get with local governments, take that survey and plan for public transportation to evacuate those people to a shelter that's more stable than their travel trailer."

Latham's biggest fear is people will try to take their trailers with them, even though it's illegal.

"It's going to complicate the evacuation and probably cause accidents, cause you're going to have people towing trailers that aren't used to towing trailers. But people will say, 'I've finally got somewhere to live.' Just leave the trailer and we'll come back with more housing if its destroyed. But we don't need to create another disaster in the process of evacuation."

People in Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River, Stone and George counties can call a toll-free number until May 26 to answer questions about their transportation needs. The number is 1-866-647-0966. Operators will be on duty 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday though Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

During the "Stay Alert, Stay Alive" campaign, FEMA and MEMA representatives will put door hangers on the trailers listing disaster preparation tips.