The Waveland Ground Zero Hurricane Museum on Friday hosted its inaugural Hurricane Preparedness Day.
Today, June 1, marks the first day of hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30.
"What do you tell people at Ground Zero about hurricane preparedness?" MEMA Director Greg Michel said. "There's not a lot I'm going to tell you that you don't already know."
Michel said that the one thing he would mention is that "complacency is always an issue that seems to cause us the biggest issues."
"One other thing I can ask you to do is to share your knowledge with those who have moved into your community and those that are young," Michel said.
Michel stressed the importance of heeding warnings and not going around barriers placed by local emergency personnel.
Hancock County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director John Albert said the EMA is here to help residents. During a storm, Albert said, there are about 100 emergency personnel working to take care of residents' needs, which includes, sandbags, and if "it comes to it, water and ice."
"We try to take care of every need the citizens of Hancock County have before, during, and after a storm," Albert said. "If we put out a warning, watch, or just an advisory, please heed what we say."
Albert said it could take up to 20 emergency personnel to rescue one person from a home.
"Find somewhere to go that's on higher ground," Albert said. "Secure all your stuff. We're going to make sure your stuff stays there as best we can. We're here to serve y'all. You need something from us, let us know and we'll try to see what we can do about it."
Robert Ricks with the National Weather Service spoke about the forecast for the 2019 hurricane season.
He prefaced the forecast by telling the crowed to not "get bogged down by the numbers."
"Because they really don't mean anything, the one that is important is that it only takes one," Ricks said.
Ricks presented estimates from both NOAA and Colorado State.
Colorado State is forecasting about 13 named storms, which includes hurricanes and tropical storms, and NOAA predicts between nine and fifteen, Ricks said.
Colorado State is forecasting about five hurricanes to NOAA's forecast of four to eight, he said.
Colorado State forecasts about two major (Category 3,4, or 5) hurricanes, while NOAA forecasts two to four, Ricks said.
One name has already been taken off the list, Andrea, on May 22, he added.
Ricks said that officials with the weather service look at the five main impacts of hurricanes: Storm surge, rainfall, wind aspect, and tornados.
Ricks said that there is "one reason why officials call for evacuation and that's because of storm surge only."
"The deaths we have logged – and this goes back to 1948 – all the deaths from all hurricanes combined, 76 percent of it is due to the water," Ricks said. "We work greatly with the federal level, with the state, the local county and government entities. We work in consolidation with each other to help protect the citizens in the community."
Ricks said that forecast verification, used for issuing warnings, "is so much better than it used to be."
"The modeling has gotten better," he said. "The forecast skills of the hurricane specialist has gotten better over the years. Every time we get a new system, it's a new learning experience to apply to the next season."
"The three-day forecast used now is as accurate as a one-day forecast used in 1990," Ricks said. "We can narrow it down to the places where people really have to take the action."
As far as the track of a hurricane, Ricks said that a 10-or-20-mile difference in track can "make all the difference."
Ricks said the weather service utilizes probabilistic surge in predicting storms, which includes running thousands of simulations.
"That is the kind of knowledge and information we provide to your local decision-makers here to best serve you and help you be safe in your community," Ricks said.
Ricks said there are also new graphics that depict the expected arrival time of a system. He said it's "very important" for decision-makers to know when tropical storm-force winds will take place.
"Let's make hurricanes just an inconvenience in life," Ricks said. "It shouldn't be a life-threatening thing if you take the right and appropriate measures and actions."
The Mississippi Department of Transportation announced the release of the 2019 Hurricane Evacuation Guide. People can order a free copy at www.GoMDOT.com/map.
According to an MDOT release, the guide includes information regarding evacuation routes, contraflow information, radio coverage areas through Mississippi Public Broadcasting and contact information for the Mississippi Highway Patrol, American Red Cross, MEMA, and bordering states DOTs and highway patrols.
"The time to prepare is now, not when a storm is being tracked," Southern Transportation District Commissioner Tom King said in the release. "The first step in preparing for a hurricane is to have a plan of action. MDOT offers a variety of free resources to get started. We're urging the public to take advantage of these resources and get a jump start on the preparation process."
For more information about hurricane safety tips, visit GoMDOT.com/hurricanes.
Dring a storm, live travel and weather information is available 24/7 with MDOT's free mobile application.