Lowndes County prepares for Fay - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lowndes County prepares for Fay

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

August 18, 2008

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -  South Georgia is bracing for Tropical Storm Fay.

The storm has already drenched South Florida with rain, packed highways and prompted a state of emergency as the storm gathers strength.

But emergency officials in Lowndes County say it's still to early to tell if South Georgia will share the same fate.

"The storm track is changing a lot, every few hours and it's gone as far west as Alabama and as far east as the Georgia coast,"  says County spokesman Paige Dukes.

If it hits south Georgia, it's predicted to bring inches of rain and heavy winds.

Lowndes County leaders say they need to be prepared.

"Whenever we have that water come in and it starts to overwhelm our infrastructure, we have roads washout," Dukes adds.  "During 2004, Hurricane Jean dumped inches of water in Lowndes County. We had $1 million dollars in damage. With that we had roads that washed out over 14 feet."

They've stockpiled supplies, asked the community to hunker down in anticipation of severe weather and put hotels on stand-by, ready to take in evacuees.

"We have put everyone here on notice locally who is responsible for sheltering not only locals but some of the visitors we could get with this storm."

So which ever way the wind blows, the community will be ready to weather the storm.

Tropical Storm Fay is forecasted to gain strength after passing the Florida key to become a category one hurricane.

A Category one storm can bring winds up to 95 miles per hour.

Here are some tips just released from the Lowndes County Commission Office:

LOWNDES COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

2008 HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS INFORMATION

Since the 2004 Hurricane Season, when over the course of several months

Lowndes County was continuously impacted in some way by hurricane and

tropical storm activity that devastated parts of Florida and the gulf cost region,

Lowndes County has continued to focus on preparedness. Since, the Lowndes

County Office of Emergency Management has monitored the progress of predisaster

mitigation plans, updated the county's Local Emergency Operations

Plan, allocated $4 million in S.P.L.O.S.T. VI funding for the construction of a local

Emergency Operations Center, taken steps to implement a Citizens Emergency

Response Team, verified the availability of local shelters, entered into two

contracts for debris management and removal and located additional resources

Georgia Emergency Management houses throughout the state.

With regards to the continuity of local services, the Lowndes County Public

Works Department has identified and taken steps to improve areas considered

vulnerable; ordered digital signage for road closures and detours; and verified

that all drainage and storm water systems are managing run-off effectively.

Since Friday, Lowndes County EMA Director, Ashley Tye, has communicated

several times daily with the Tallahassee Division of the National Weather

Service, regarding the possible paths Tropical Storm Fay might travel through the

area. Currently, Mr. Tye continues to monitor condition updates and situation

reports related to the storm. This information is then disseminated to local

governments and officials, city and county departments, local schools, utility

companies and emergency support functions agencies such as the Red Cross.

Lowndes County Public Works and Lowndes County Fire Rescue will carefully

monitor conditions as the storm makes landfall and will adjust manning and hours

of work accordingly. For now, Lowndes County recommends that citizens take

advantage of the advance notice tropical storms and hurricanes provide by taking

steps necessary to prepare their homes and businesses. The Department of

Homeland Security has launched a national campaign encouraging citizens to

prepare for hurricanes by compiling the information below which may also be

obtained by visiting www.ready.gov.

Lowndes County encourages citizens to be aware of their surroundings at all

times and stay tuned to local media, additional information will be released as

soon as it becomes available. In the event of a power outage, citizens can still

receive weather updates and emergency information via NOAA Weather Radio.

Many local retailers offer NOAA Weather Radios at a reasonable cost and they

have been referred to as the single most important preparedness tool a citizen

can purchase.

 

Step 1: Get A Kit

 

  • Get a Kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a batterypowered

or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You may want to

prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car. This kit should include:

Copies of prescription medications and medical supplies;

o Bedding and clothing, including sleeping bags and pillows;

o Bottled water, a battery-operated radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit, a

flashlight;

o Copies of important documents: driver's license, Social Security card,

proof of residence, insurance policies, wills, deeds, birth and marriage

certificates, tax records, etc.

Step 2: Make a Plan

Prepare your family

 

  • Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster

strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will

get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency

  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your

immediate neighborhood.

  • It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an

out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated

family members.

  • You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family

spends time: work, daycare and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to

help create one.

  • Plan to Evacuate

o Identify ahead of time where your family will meet, both within and

outside of your immediate neighborhood.

o Identify several places you could go in an emergency, a friend's home in

another town, a motel or public shelter.

o If you do not have a car, plan alternate means of evacuating.

o If you have a car, keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case you need

to evacuate.

o Take your Emergency Supply Kit.

o Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be

permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an

emergency.

  • Take a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class from your local

Citizen Corps chapter. Keep your training current.

Step 3: Be Informed

Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a hurricane.

  • A hurricane watch means a hurricane is possible in your area. Be prepared to

evacuate. Monitor local radio and television news outlets or listen to NOAA

Weather Radio for the latest developments.

  • A hurricane warning is when a hurricane is expected in your area. If local

authorities advise you to evacuate, leave immediately.

  • Hurricanes are classified into five categories based on their wind speed, central

pressure, and damage potential. Category Three and higher hurricanes are

considered major hurricanes, though Categories One and Two are still extremely

dangerous and warrant your full attention.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Scale Number

(Category)

Sustained

Winds (MPH) Damage Storm

Surge

 

1 74-95 Minimal: Unanchored mobile homes,

vegetation and signs. 4-5 feet

2 96-110 Moderate: All mobile homes, roofs,

small crafts, flooding. 6-8 feet

3 111-130 Extensive: Small buildings, low-lying

roads cut off. 9-12 feet

4 131-155

Extreme: Roofs destroyed, trees down,

roads cut off, mobile homes destroyed.

Beach homes flooded.

13-18 feet

5 More than 155

Catastrophic: Most buildings destroyed.

Vegetation destroyed. Major roads cut

off. Homes flooded.

Greater than 18 feet

  • Hurricanes can produce widespread torrential rains. Floods are the deadly and

destructive result. Slow moving storms and tropical storms moving into

mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain. Excessive rain can

trigger landslides or mud slides, especially in mountainous regions. Flash flooding

can occur due to intense rainfall. Flooding on rivers and streams may persist for

several days or more after the storm. Learn more about preparing your home or

business for a possible flood by reviewing the Floods page.

Prepare Your Home

 

  • Cover all of your home's windows with pre-cut ply wood or hurricane shutters to

protect your windows from high winds.

  • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else

that is not tied down.

  • Keep all trees and shrubs well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.

 

  • Secure your home by closing shutters, and securing outdoor objects or bringing

them inside.

  • Turn off utilities as instructed. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its

coldest setting and keep its doors closed.

  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing

toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.

Prepare Your Business

 

Plan to stay in business, talk to your employees, and protect your investment.

  • Carefully assess how your company functions, both internally and externally, to

determine which staff, materials, procedures and equipment are absolutely

necessary to keep the business operating.

  • Identify operations critical to survival and recovery.
  • Plan what you will do if your building, plant or store is not accessible.

o Consider if you can run the business from a different location or from your

home.

o Develop relationships with other companies to use their facilities in case a

disaster makes your location unusable.

  • Learn about programs, services, and resources at U.S. Small Business

Administration.

Listen to Local Officials

 

Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state

and local government. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local

emergency management officials.

Federal and National Resources

 

Find additional information on how to plan and prepare for a hurricane by visiting the

following resources:

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • NOAA Watch
  • American Red Cross
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control

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