EOC Directors Warn Residents To Stay Prepared

South Mississippians can rest easy, at least until next year. The 2006 Atlantic Hurricane Season is now officially in the books, and what a difference a year makes.

In 2005, there were a record breaking 27 named storms, 15 of which were hurricanes, seven were major. In 2006, there were only nine named storms, five of those were hurricanes, two were major.

In fact, not a single hurricane made landfall in the U.S. this year. Experts say that's welcome news, especially here and other areas rebuilding after the worst natural disaster in American history.

"We've had so many hurricanes threaten the U.S. over the last four years. A lot of the coastal U.S., the Gulf Coast and parts of the East Coast of the U.S. have already been compromised from previous years. And those areas really needed a break to continue rebuilding efforts," Gerry Bell with the NOAA Climate Prediction Center said.

In May, scientists predicted 13 to 16 named storms, with 10 hurricanes, six being major. Emergency Operation Center directors in South Mississppi's three coastal counties are thankful those predictions didn't become reality.

"We're thankful for the non-active season, but we must use this time to get better prepared for future hurricane seasons," Harrison County EOC Director Joe Spraggins said.

In Hancock County, EOC Director Brian Adam echoed those sentiments saying, "We're thankful we made it through without any major storms. This gives people a chance to heal and continue to rebuild."

Jackson County's EOC Director, Butch Loper, also appreciates the slow season, but added, "Don't let your guard down and be unprepared, because not every season will be as inactive as this one."