Residents in Hancock County and elsewhere across the Mississippi Gulf Coast were advised to “hunker down” by 3 p.m. Wednesday, with Hurricane Zeta expected to make landfall in southeast Louisiana late Wednesday afternoon before passing over south Mississippi.

The Hancock County Emergency Management Agency — in coordination with the Hancock County Board of Supervisors, and cities of Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead, and Waveland — on Wednesday issued a mandatory evacuation effective immediately for all low lying areas, residents living on rivers, river inlets, bayou creeks, and in travel trailers, modular homes or mobile homes, homes under construction and/or partially constructed homes. The low lying areas include but are not limited to the following: Shoreline Park (East & West side of HWY 603), North Beach - Cedar Point, South Beach Blvd. - Bay St. Louis & Waveland, South Side of Diamondhead, Clermont Harbor, Lakeshore, Ansley/Heron Bay, Pearlington, Harbor Drive, Chapman Road, Jourdan River Drive.

For further information, contact the Hancock County Emergency Management Agency at 228-255-0942.

Gov. Tate Reeves announced Wednesday morning that he had signed a Declaration of Emergency in advance of the storm.

“Emergency operators are working to get ready for storm surge and hard winds—up to 9 feet of surge and winds up to 100 mph,” Reeves said on social media. “Stay sharp, stay safe, and pray for God’s protection.”

According to the National Hurricane Center on Wednesday morning, “On the forecast track, the center of Zeta will approach the northern Gulf Coast this morning and make landfall in southeastern Louisiana this afternoon. Zeta will move close to the Mississippi coast this evening, and move across the southeastern and eastern United States on Thursday.

“Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 90 mph

with higher gusts. Some additional strengthening is forecast this morning, and Zeta is expected to reach the northern Gulf Coast as a hurricane before weakening over the southeastern United States on Thursday.”

The NHC issued a Storm Surge warning from the mouth of the Atchafalaya River to Navarre, Fla.

The NHC also warned of heavy rain in advance of Zeta, with rainfall totals of two to four inches with isolated amounts up to six inches in some areas, which could result in flooding.

In addition, the NHC said, “A few tornadoes are expected this afternoon through tonight over southeastern parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the western Panhandle of Florida.”

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