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Preparing for Hurricane Season

The Mississippi Department of Transportation’s in-plant plays a crucial part in keeping residents informed and safe in the face of a hurricane.

October 2011
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Since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, hurricane preparedness in the region has gone to a whole new level. The Mississippi Department of Transportation is making a concerted effort to keep its Gulf Coast residents aware of what to do in the event of an approaching storm by raising awareness in the coastal region.

At the heart of that effort is the annual MDOT Hurricane Evacuation Guide, which offers readers crucial information including emergency contact numbers and Web sites, radio stations, a list of evacuation routes and an evacuation map.

Ironically, the first year MDOT's in-plant printed the guide was in 2005. The guide was distributed approximately one month before Katrina—the worst hurricane on record—struck the Gulf Coast. Since then the guide has evolved to offer even more information and use of current technology, including route-–specific Twitter information and a QR code.

According to MDOT Director of Printing Wayne Durrett, the Hurricane Guide is the eight-employee in-plant's largest annual printing job, with approximately 325,000 copies printed, including Spanish-language versions. Printed in-house in 20 days or less, the guides are distributed to newspapers in the coastal region, which insert them into the newspaper for their readers.

Getting the guide together is a team effort, says Durrett. The maps come from MDOT's Planning Division and the layout of the other parts of the publication is handled by the agency's graphic design staff.

In addition to communicating MDOT's evacuation plan, the guide also utilizes technology to allow motorists to access information on real-time emergency weather situations. To accomplish this, the Hurricane Evacuation Guide, for the first time, is equipped with a QR Code on the front cover that can be scanned by a smart phone to take the user to MDOT's real-time traffic information Web site, mstraffic.com. Also, each of the six coastal evacuation routes has its own Twitter feed, which can be found in the guide.

Public Affairs Division Director Carrie Adams says the Hurricane Guide is central to MDOT's effort to prepare residents for a potential evacuation.

"We hold several 'Hurricane Awareness Blitzes' on the coast each year, and the first thing we stress is that they read the guide and keep it in a safe place where they can find it in the case of a hurricane," Adams says.

As for the production process, Durrett says the 16-page guide is printed 4/4 on the in-plant's four-color Sakurai 66, with plates being output from a Python Highwater CTP device. It is folded and slit all in one pass using an MBO 24 folder. Lastly, it is boxed for distribution to the media.

 

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