South Georgia emergency crews prepare for Katrina - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia emergency crews prepare for Katrina

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August 26, 2005

Albany- As Hurricane Katrina spins through the Gulf Friday, South Georgia prepares for what's ahead. Katrina blew through south Florida and likely will hit land again somewhere between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle. Whatever comes our way, emergency officials say they're ready.

Emergency services across South Georgia brace for the worst and hope for the best with Katrina.

"We've opened up our emergency operations center and tested our computers and our phone systems and our fax machines to make sure they're all operating at 100 percent," said Jim Vaught, Dougherty EMA Deputy Director.

Crews also silently tested warning sirens that could save lives if Katrina spawns tornadoes in Albany.

"We ran that test Friday just to be sure, we had a couple of them that had a couple of problems, and we sent the repair company to take care of that," said Vaught.

Power providers are also getting ready for high winds and downed trees that accompany these storms.

"We have to make sure our inventory is up to date, we have plenty of poles, transformers and wires those are the main things that you need during a storm restoration," said Bill Rimer, Mitchell EMC.

They've put in the call for extra help and have all employees on stand by. "We have crews available from other coops, from contract crews, and course our own crews are on standby," said Rimer.

When the storm arrives, they say they'll be ready to help.

"It is very, very important that our customers and members, if they have wires down to please call us, stay clear of them, don't try and drag them out of the road or out of their yard call us and let us do that," said Rimer.

Despite newer storm models that may put Katrina farther west, emergency crews say they still need to be prepared.

"We're not out of the woods yet, but it's better than what we saw Friday morning," said Vaught.

If it's necessary to sound the warning sirens, a long whaling sound signifies a thunderstorm approaching. The low and high sounding siren means a tornado is near.

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