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South Ga. starts preparing for hurricane season

Published: May. 11, 2021 at 1:15 AM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Sumter County leaders are looking to put together a disaster-ready team full of volunteers so they can get ahead of any storm that may hit the county.

This comes as Hurricane Preparedness Week kicked off Monday.

Their team will be part of the Citizens Corps and it would be a team of trained volunteers that can respond to a disaster in their community.

Right now, they are still establishing, recruiting and encouraging volunteers.

They are looking to have as many people of any age involved and they have around 120 people they are hoping will be a part of this volunteer team.

“We got a medical reserve team that’s been helping out at our mass vaccination site, but as they’re starting to close that down, we’re gonna transition those volunteers we’ve already captured and make them ready for severe weather events as well as events they’ve been working with for COVID,” said Emergency Management Director Nigel Poole.

Nigel Poole
Nigel Poole(source: Nigel Poole)

From there, training, like Citizens Emergency Response Team classes, first aid courses, will begin.

Their goal is to have one of these volunteers in each community throughout Sumter County.

That way, they not only can help themselves following severe weather events but their neighbors as well.

Poole also wants to encourage residents to download CodeRED to get the latest alerts when severe weather strikes.

You can also download WALB’s First Alert Weather app on Apple or Android.

Both are useful during severe weather and free from Apple and Google app stores.

It may be Hurricane Preparedness Week, but Lee County Emergency Management leaders said they are on their A-game year-round when it comes to preparing for the worst.

They said they do that by staying in contact with the National Weather Service all year.

This includes keeping a watch over what their weather predictions are.

Nikkie Celinski, the Lee County 911 coordinator and deputy EMA director, said her office and Lee County Public Works work closely together in preparing for storms all year.

“We’ve got a really good crew. They take care of their roadways and make sure they’re cleared and prepared for storms,” said Celinski.

Nikkie Celinski
Nikkie Celinski(source: WALB)

WALB News 10 has not gotten a time frame from Public Works for how often crews clear tree lines and loose limbs near roads and power lines.

Because certain areas in Lee County can flood, leaders did tell WALB that the county has enough supplies for sandbagging if those are ever needed.

The lone siren for the county is located inside the clock on top of the county courthouse and officials said it is working.

Dougherty County leaders said they’re staying ahead of hurricane season by staying on the cutting edge of technology.

Emergency management leaders said they’ve been attending National Weather Service webinar conferences.

These webinars are helping them stay up to date on hurricane preparedness and getting informed on some programs emergency management officials can use to help them make the best decisions when severe weather strikes.

Lauren McGrath, an EMA specialist with Dougherty County, said they too work closely with the National Weather Service year-round.

“We do it a lot, year-round. The National Weather Service is putting out a lot of great information for National Hurricane (Preparedness) Week, along with the National Hurricane Center,” said McGrath.

McGrath said there are currently 14 emergency sirens in the City of Albany and only two are not working. However, they are trying to get those two fixed.

McGrath said if the one nearest you doesn’t work, you’re still likely to hear a siren because their sounds overlap each other.

She also wants to encourage residents to download CodeRED to get the latest alerts when severe weather strikes.

Hurricane season starts June 1 and now is the time to get your home ready for severe weather, according to Southwest Georgia emergency management leaders.

They said there are a lot of things you can do right now and recommend you have a disaster plan in place along with emergency supplies.

Keep senior citizens in mind and their needs like oxygen tanks and medication.

Also, don’t forget your pets and have a plan in place for them and their needs.

“Safely securing your home, making sure you secure objects that would fly around. If you have any loose limbs, securing those, any furniture,” explained McGrath.

McGrath said you can always do a risk assent of your home.

If you feel like your roof or home needs any repairs, now is the time to get them checked out by professionals.

Lastly, make sure your insurance policy is up to date and you know what’s covered.

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