Severe Storm Preparedness Week: Markers Serve as Storm Surge Reminders
By Melissa Schneider, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium
There are 17 markers in Mississippi Gulf Coast communities that show residents and visitors how the Mississippi Sound’s calm waters can become destructive and deadly.
Coastal Hazard Outreach Strategy Team (C-HOST) members Mike Edwards (Gulfport), left, Rick Stickler
(Biloxi), Kelly Henderson (Harrison County), Terry Franklin (Ocean Springs), Kristin Greger (Biloxi), Theresa
Hydrick (Harrison County) and Tracie Sempier (Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant) unveiled one of Biloxi’s high water markers outside the Biloxi Visitors Center. Image: Melissa Schneider, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.
A marker was unveiled at the visitors center in Biloxi, Miss., to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and launch the storm surge awareness program. At each of the 17 high water marker sites, three colored markers show past storm surge levels. A red marker shows the high water mark for Hurricane Katrina (2005). Blue shows the high water from Hurricane Camille (1969). And, black marks the base flood elevation (how high water is expected to rise in a large storm event).
The markers were coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and the Coastal Hazard Outreach Strategy Team (C-HOST), a regional outreach team that consists of representatives from 12 coastal communities.
“We all worked together over a two-year period to get these markers approved through each jurisdiction,” said Mike Edwards, City of Gulfport floodplain manager and current C-HOST chairperson. Biloxi, Gulfport, Ocean Springs, Long Beach, Waveland, D’Iberville and Harrison County are participating in the program.
Two plaques are placed side by side at the Biloxi Visitors Center. One plaque shows the 17 high water mark community marker locations. The other plaque states storm surge levels at that location in Hurricanes Camille and Katrina, the number of people who died in the storms and the number of people who were missing.
A plaque explains how high the water was in the two deadliest hurricanes in Mississippi. It also says how many people died and went missing. Image: Melissa Schneider, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.
“The markers are designed to bring awareness to how high the water levels actually were,” said Kristin Greger, Biloxi’s Community Rating System coordinator and C-HOST member. “Because it has been 10 years since Katrina, people tend to forget and become complacent.”
These reminders of how high waters have risen in past storms illustrate how much residents and communities need to prepare for future storms.
“The most important thing is to know your base flood elevation,” said Rick Stickler, Biloxi’s floodplain manager.
The markers illustrate the benefit of building higher in preparation for future storms.