GA, FL buddy up for hurricane season - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

GA, FL buddy up for hurricane season

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May 25, 2006

Thomasville-  For the first time ever Georgia and Florida will work together to respond to Hurricane force storms that threaten our area. Earlier this year, Emergency Management officials from northern Florida and southern Georgia met to discuss what resources they might be able to share.

When hurricane force winds howl and threaten Florida's panhandle this year, they'll have help waiting.

"The time to introduce yourself and discuss what you're bringing to the table as far as resources is not the day of the event," said Chris Jones, Thomas County EMA Director.

EMA directors from border counties in both states sat down in March and are ready for anything to come, starting next week.

"Communications is always the weakest link in every disaster," said Jones.

This year when the winds blow, emergency services will be able to talk.

"Being able to communicate from the ambulances to the local hospitals, whether it being Georgia or in Florida and then from there we hope that all agencies will be able to share radio frequencies," said Jones.

They also discussed evacuation routes and jurisdiction and when trouble strikes.

"In the event that we have a catastrophic hurricane or something to come through the panhandle area, we will need to rely on each other's resources," said Jones.

A category three storm on this side of the gulf could definitely cause damage inland. Damage from Katrina stretched 85 miles inland and those people were without power for two weeks.

Hurricane Dennis last year taught Thomas County, Georgia's not immune. Roads washed out, trees fell but this year they'll have help.

"I feel somewhat better prepared in Thomas County knowing that we've made those contacts," said Jones.

And while it's the calm before the storm, both states say they feel better going into this hurricane season using the buddy system.

Damage and clean up from Hurricane Dennis last year cost Thomas County more than one million dollars.

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