PEARL – As Hurricane Season begins next week, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency wants to remind all Mississippi residents to begin preparing for the 2016 Hurricane Season.

As part of Mississippi’s Hurricane Preparedness week, MEMA Executive Director Lee Smithson reminds Mississippians to discuss their Family and Business Disaster Plans. The plan should include an evacuation method and route, a communications plan and a disaster supply kit.

“I think it is safe to say that every Mississippian was affected by Hurricane Katrina 11 years ago,” Smithson said. “Just because we haven’t had a major hurricane in several years, doesn’t mean that it won’t happen this year. Now is the time to start planning for such an event.”

Residents should contact their county emergency management directors to learn about emergency plans for their area, locations of shelters and evacuation zones and routes. For a full list of contact information for county emergency management directors, go to

During Hurricane Isaac in 2012, hundreds of citizens had to be rescued as a result of rising water. Heavy rains and storm surge will almost always be associated with tropical systems. Once tropical storm force winds begin, first responders may not be able reach citizens stranded as a result of rising water.

Following an evacuation, a communications plan can help residents locate family members and friends who also evacuated. During and after a storm, telephone service could be limited. It is often easier to call long distance, outside the disaster area, or to even send a text message from a mobile device. Ask an out-of-state friend or relative to serve as the family contact person. Make sure all family members know the name, address and telephone number for this contact person.

Develop and maintain a Family Disaster Supply Kit with life sustaining items such as non-perishable food and water for at least three to five days, a first aid kit with prescription medications, a battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries, cash and traveler’s checks and specialty items such as baby formula and pet-care items. If you evacuate remember to take your supply kit with you along with other things like bedding if you are going to a shelter. For more information on important items to include in a disaster supply kit, go to where you can print a checklist. You can also print the Mississippi Hurricane Guide.

Gov. Phil Bryant declared May 23-27 as Hurricane Preparedness Week in Mississippi.

For more information about how to prepare for hurricane season, go to MEMA’s website at or download the MEMA mobile app on your iOS or Android device. The best way to get up-to-date information is to “Like” MEMA on Facebook, or “Follow” us on twitter.