(WALB) - As Hurricane Michael makes its way towards the Florida coast, South Georgia is making preparations for its potential wrath.
MORE ON HURRICANE MICHAEL:
For those Albany residents concerned with the potential flooding impact from Michael, Albany Public Works is passing out sandbags at 1900 N. Monroe St. Limit 10 per household.
Lee County officials are hard at work, making sure they are ready for the impact, officials said Tuesday.
Sheriff Reggie Rachals said his officers are ready and wants to make sure that the community is taking the storm seriously.
“It’s very important they take it serious," Rachals said. "We took the other ones serious too but this one I believe is a little bit more serious then the last ones we have had. This is going to be a strong storm coming straight up through Lee County and surrounding areas. It is going to hit us pretty hard I believe. Everyone needs to be prepared for it.”
Lee County Officials know extreme winds and heavy rains could cause a lot of damage. But they feel they are as prepared as possible to respond.
A concern is the dirt roads in rural parts of the county flooding..which is why public works will have crews out starting at 5 a.m.
Co-County Manager Mike Sistrunk told us they have prepped roads and have crews in place on stand by and sand bags ready to send out.
The county works closely with public works, local law enforcement agencies, and fire and EMA to cover the county.
Sistrunk said the best piece of advice he can give to those living on dirt roads, don’t chance it.
“If you do come across dirt roads with water on it please don’t drive on it because we don’t know what’s under there and when you get flash rains coming like this it can erode out and you don’t know it until you drive over it and it’s not worth the risk," said Sistrunk.
Worth County is mobilizing with all of its leaders to make sure citizens are prepared for Hurricane Michael.
Some of those preparations include setting up comfort stations for people to go to during the storms, as well as providing sand bags for residents to pick up.
Worth County also has mobilized extra crews to assist units in the area.
A curfew has been implemented in Worth county from 10 p.m. Tuesday until 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Tom Whittington, Worth County EMA director, said he wants residents to know the type of storm the area is dealing with.
“Now according to what we’ve been told by some of our power officials that it’s possible that if the wind is as damaging as they are thinking we could be without power possibly for a week,” Whittington said.
Whittington said the county is concerned with the debris and wind speed so people need to secure the items in their yards and board up their windows as well.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Tift County declared a state of emergency.
Tift County also set up two comfort stations.
Vickie Hickman, Tift County EMA director, said on a daily basis, ditches are cleaned to prepare for situations like this.
“I think our biggest concern right now would be the winds and the widespread power outages," Hickman said. "We don’t know how widespread that will be or how long the power will be out but that is something they told us to expect, widespread power outages.”
Forecasters say Thomas County will see tropical storm force winds as early as Wednesday morning.
Area officials were updated during a weather briefing Tuesday.
Officials estimated Thomas County residents could see wind over 75 mph.
And those conditions are only expected to worsen closer into the evening hours.
Tony Bodiford, Thomas County public works director, said there’s a chance of power outage and fallen trees.
“We would like to ask people that whenever trees do start falling to stay home," Bodiford said. "Don’t go out riding trying to look and see what’s going on.”
Bodiford said extra drivers on the roadway creates more delays for first responders working to clear the roads and restore power outages.
Grady and Decatur counties:
Decatur and Grady Counties will likely see wind speeds from 39 to 73 mph.
Tonya Griffin, the Decatur deputy director, strongly recommends that anyone who lives in a mobile home to stop now and find a safe place to go.
Grady EMC also is ready for the storm.
John Long, Grady EMC interim general manager, said the EMC has already requested additional help from the Tennessee EMC.
Those crews are heading out as early as 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Two sites in Decatur County have been set up to pick up sandbags. The sites are at the Correctional Institute on Airport Road and at 1503 Pierce Street.
Brooks County began storm preparation at their Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Tuesday.
The EOC is meant to be a hub for representatives from all the first responding offices and agencies to help streamline assistance for residents, officials said.
Officials are expecting it to open at 8 a.m.
During a briefing, officials re-iterated there is a voluntary evacuation, but not a mandatory one.
If that changes, there is a chance first responders won’t be able to respond to emergency calls during the storm.
“We want to give the citizens an opportunity to get out themselves, move at own pace, do thing," said David Crosby, EOC manager. "During a mandatory evacuation, you can’t really force somebody to leave their home. You can highly encourage them to leave their home, but you can’t really force them.”
Hurricane Michael is inching closer to making landfall, and many Seminole County residents aren’t taking any chances.
An ACE hardware store has been busy all Tuesday afternoon as people in the area prepare for impact.
David Lovering, sales associate, said they already sold out of generators and won’t get a new shipment until later Tuesday night.
And the generators coming in are already called for.
Lovering said people are starting to worry around the county.
“It’s getting pretty hectic here. People getting worried, as far as groceries, grocery stores," Lovering said. "We’ve had a lot of propane sales this morning, flash lights, batteries, gas tanks, chainsaws. That’s our biggest thing was propane this morning.”
Lovering said they will stay open for as long as they can during the storm, and will re-open afterwards to help with any storm damage that may be left behind.