GULFPORT, Miss. – South Mississippi is braced for the fury, and subsequent heartache, of powerful Hurricane Katrina.

Packing winds at 160 mph at 8 p.m. Sunday, the Category 5 Hurricane Katrina was expected to make landfall around 7 a.m. today near Grand Isle, La.

Forecasters warn that a 25-foot storm surge is possible and predict the area will experience hurricane-force winds for about 12 hours. Tropical storm winds were expected to reach the coast by Sunday evening.

Some watching the track of Hurricane Katrina believe it will be as catastrophic, if not more so, as Hurricane Camille, the most powerful hurricane to hit land in U.S. history.

The following is an excerpt from a blog on, a Web site specializing in weather: “If the eye wall was to shrink to 15 nautical miles in diameter, we would have another Camille – except it is a larger storm than Camille.”

“If Katrina maintains a Category 5 intensity all the way to the Coast, a storm surge of 24-28 feet ill hit the Delta region … this storm will produce the most catastrophic damage in modern times if it maintains its intensity and projected track. The repercussions will be felt nationwide for a very long time.”

Harrison, Hancock and Jackson county officials ordered mandatory evacuations in some areas and urge other residents to leave town.

In Harrison County, mandatory evacuations for Zones A and B were effective at 10 a.m. Sunday. Flood zone maps are located on the Harrison County Civil Defense Web site at

Col. Joe Spraggins, director of the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency, strongly urges all Harrison County residents to get out of town, especially those in mobile homes.

“If you can get out of Harrison County, get out of Harrison County,” Spraggins said during an 8 a.m. Sunday briefing. All shelters in Harrison County opened at noon Sunday. Spraggins said law enforcement officers will go to as many homes as possible asking those who refuse to evacuate to sign paperwork attesting to that effect.

Hancock County officials called for mandatory evacuations beginning at 6 a.m. for the entire county, including the cities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland.

In Pearl River County, Carolyn Nelson, coordinator of Emergency Management said at 9:30 a.m. that there were no mandatory evacuations and none were expected. The first shelter was to open in Picayune at 2 p.m., with others to be opened as needed.

“We’re telling callers that if they have good sturdy homes and they’re not in a flood zone to stay,” said Nelson, “Leaving is their call.”

In Jackson County, mandatory evacuations were invoked at 8 a.m. Sunday for all areas south of U.S. 90 and in the Flood A zone and all low-lying areas. Darryl Goldmen, radio emergency community coordinator at county emergency management in Pascagoula, said all areas south of I-10 are “highly recommended” for evacuation.

“The people who have been calling haven’t been giving me any lip,” Goldmen said. “People are recognizing this is another Camille-type event and it has their attention.”

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