EXCLUSIVE: City leaders talk potential severe weather and its impact

EXCLUSIVE: City leaders talk potential severe weather and its impact

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Rain and even more severe weather are predicted to hit Albany and some surrounding South Georgia counties this weekend.

This, as many people are still in recovery mode following eight tornadoes and two damaging wind events that tore through the region more than two weeks ago.

WALB's Catherine Patterson sat down exclusively with Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, Assistant City Manager Phil Roberson, and EMA Director Ron Rowe to discuss how the city is preparing itself and what residents need to know.

City leaders are 'ready to go' ahead of this weekend's severe weather 

The city is bracing itself for yet another severe storm, but they want to assure the community that they're prepared.

EMA Director Ron Rowe said the Fire Department has been going door to door in hard hit areas, and they will continue to do so to ensure that power is restored in all areas possible.

Assistant City Manager Phil Roberson said the city will reach out with electrical and building inspectors to go to those people who may not know what to do or who to call to get their power back on.

Rowe said the National Weather Service is expecting large hail, damaging wind gusts, and two to six inches of rain.

That's expected to happen starting Saturday afternoon into Sunday afternoon.

WALB's First Alert meteorologists have declared this weekend to be a First Alert Weather Weekend, here is what that means.

Roberson said they've made the necessary preparations for that forecast.

"All of our pumping stations have pumped our storm ponds down," said Roberson. "All of our canals are as clean as possible. Our storm water inlets, we're working on that now. All the areas that we're cleaning debris in now, we have street sweepers working in those areas, particularly the low lying areas, the flood prone areas, to make sure we do as much of that as possible."

How can you prepare?

Roberson asks that the public does their part to help.

He's noticed a lot of contractors are placing debris at the curb line, in the gutter line, and on top of storm drains.

He asks folks be mindful and to keep those areas clear to prevent localized flooding.

Roberson said that the city will put out a request for proposals for debris collection area-wide, which will be opened on Friday.

Rowe said every department that takes part in the public safety side has employed all of their critical functions.

They have people on standby and they're making sure every vehicle has fuel.

They are also asking residents to do their part as well to prepare.

If you have any potentially hazardous trees in your yard, you need to prepare for strong winds that will come with this weekend's expected storms.

"There are a lot of tarps out on the roofs," said Rowe. "A lot of these tarps aren't secured very well. They're talking about winds of 40 miles per hour plus.  If that comes in, we need to make sure, prepare ahead of time to get your tarps secured on your roofs."

Mayor Hubbard urges residents to listen out for alerts and heed warnings.

How much will the storms cost the city of Albany?

The city of Albany is also working to crunch the numbers and see how much the storm will cost.

EMA Director Ron Rowe said they're nowhere near finished, as they continue to assess the damage.

But Mayor Dorothy Hubbard said she's confident that Albany will receive the help they need from FEMA, otherwise it could raise concern for the city's budget.

Preliminary uninsured losses as well as expenses on the storm relief right now are around $20 million.

That does not include Dougherty County nor any of the other seven counties that were affected in the declaration around the state.

In order to get FEMA assistance, the total needs to be around $14 million.

Mayor Hubbard said they're watching the budget, but they know they must do what needs to be done to help the city.

"We are required by state law to have a balance budget and you know this was not in the budget. We had miscellaneous funds of course in there and I think each department had a little bit of miscellaneous but not near enough to cover this. So, yes I am concerned but certainly we are getting the help at this point that we need. And I'm just confident that we are going to get the designations that we need to help us defray those costs."

Rowe said they've sent the numbers in, and they're waiting on their assessments and final reviews to be done.

City commissioner BJ Fletcher is asking residents to print out the FEMA survey to ensure we get assistance.

"And that's why we need the community," Fletcher said. "They need to be a part of this. They need to print out those surveys, they need to call in the surveys. They have to understand, that's how we get our FEMA dollars. The bigger our loss, the bigger the money."

You can access that survey here.

Anybody who needs assistance can call the EOC at these non-emergency numbers, (229) 483-6226, (229) 483-6227 or (229) 483-6228.

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