All non-essential Gulfport city government operations shut down at 11:30 a.m. Thursday September 1 in anticipation of Tropical Storm Hermine.
It was the first time in at least 11 years that the government closed because of bad weather, according to Lori Roach, administrative assistant to City Manager Jim O’Reilly.
The city’s emergency information center will continue to be staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., taking calls from the public and providing the most up-to-date information at 727-893 1000.
After 8 p.m., residents with non-911 emergencies can call that number and reach a city staffer who will forward their problem to the correct municipal department, said city IT chief Dave Mather.
Information is also available on the city’s website – mygulfport.us – and GTV 640, which can be streamed through the website.
The police, fire and public works departments will remain open.
City Hall and all other municipal facilities such as the library and recreation center were closed, with the decision on whether to reopen Friday to be made as the situation develops, Roach said. At mid-day, it was unclear whether Saturday’s Geckofest would be affected.
As of 11:30 Thursday, no major damage had been reported to City Hall, nor had there been any reports of massive sewage dumps from neighboring communities into area waters, city officials said.
However, O’Reilly said the huge among of rain and ground water had over loaded the city’s sewage system, and water mixed with sewage was discharging through approximately half a dozen manholes.
“It’s primarily effluent diluted with a great amount of rain water and ground water,” he said. “We’re doing our best to keep the system working.”
He said they system had been pumping approximately 15,000 gallons per minute.
High tide was expected at 1:09 p.m. Thursday, with a potential storm surge of 1 to 2 feet at that time.
“How high it gets depends on which way the wind is blowing,” Roach said.
Parts of a number of roadways were closed at some point because of flooding on Wednesday, including Shore Blvd., Beach Dr., 29th Ave., 26th Ave., 58th St., 56th St. and Gulfport Blvd., she said, with a number of businesses on Shore Blvd. being forced to close, she said.
More of the same is expected today.