• 66°

I-55 South closed to traffic to aid evacuees

Gov. Haley Barbour early Saturday issued a contraflow to takeplace on Interstate 55, closing off all southbound lanes, to helpLouisiana residents evacuate from Hurricane Katrina.

The contraflow took effect at 4 p.m. Saturday and will lastuntil 4 p.m. today. All lanes will travel northbound up to milemarker 31, which is south of Highway 84 in Brookhaven. Traffic willmerge back to two lanes just north of Bogue Chitto. Interstate 59is also part of the contraflow.

American Red Cross officials began to open shelters north ofInterstate 20 on Saturday. As shelters open, they will be posted onMEMA’s Web site at www.msema.org. Travelers through Brookhaven canaccess the Internet at the Brookhaven Public Library on SouthJackson Street.

The National American Red Cross is encouraging travelers todevelop a communications plan with relatives prior to theirdeparture should they need to be located during or after thehurricane.

“Typically the phone lines become jammed afterwards with peoplecalling to get in touch with relatives,” said Renita Hosler, aspokesperson for the national American Red Cross.

In preparing for the hurricane, Entergy is implementing itsemergency restoration plan, which will build a work force of 1,500line restoration workers in Mississippi. Entergy canceled allemployee vacations to ensure resources are available.

“We have been tracking Katrina for several days,” said KennyGoza, customer account and service manager in Brookhaven. “Ourcustomers can be assured that we are doing all we can to ensure weare prepared for this storm.”