With Isaac knocking on Mississippi's Gulf Coast door, state leaders and emergency responders are preparing for a sudden and dramatic turn in the weather.
"As we see the weather outside it appears to be warm and sun shiny, that will change," said Governor Phil Bryant.
"This is a huge storm. Late Sunday afternoon it was estimated to be 800 miles wide. That's huge," said MEMA Executive Director Robert Latham.
Fifteen hundred Mississippi soldiers and airmen are now being dispatched to the Gulf Coast to protect people and property. Additional state troopers are also on the way to assist with traffic should contra flow happen. With a voluntary evacuation in place, Bryant says Mississippi is already working with the White House, the federal government and neighboring states to begin response tactics once the storm passes.
"We have done everything in our power to be prepared for this storm," said Bryant.
Now it comes down to personal preparedness. While the Gulf Coast will face the brunt of the storm in Mississippi, emergency operators at MEMA say the entire state will feel its power.
"We can expect quite a bit of wind, tropical storm force winds, well above the Jackson area and on up close to the Tennessee border," said MEMA chief of staff Bill Brown.
Even with minor shifts in its path, emergency leaders say that won't change what's expected from Isaac. Right now, the coast is looking at a 10 to 12 foot storm surge. With Katrina in mind, Bryant says the state is ready for whatever mother nature decides to do.
"The most challenging portion of this is making a decision with a storm that could change direction and velocity in a matter of hours, so we have to air on the side of caution. If they tell us it is a category two, we plan for a category three," said Bryant.
Shelters across the state are set to begin opening up Monday evening to start housing evacuees from other states as well as those from the Gulf Coast. Those shelters will begin opening on an as needed basis.
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