Community prepares for hurricane Irma storms
Sunday, September 10, 2017 - 2:10pm
Hurricane Irma is expected to travel from Florida up through Georgia, creating conditions just right for tornados. There are also two hurricanes following on the heels of Irma – José and Katia.
Schools in Glascock and Jefferson counties are closed Monday and Tuesday.
Jim Anderson, Jefferson County’s EMA director, said Friday according to Hurricane Center there is no reason to be concerned about Hurricane Katia.
Hurricane José might be another matter. Anderson said it’s a possibility there will be local concerns with this hurricane.
“More will be known later this weekend. (It) should strike the islands,” he said. “Another wave came off the coast of Africa this morning, which they will monitor. It’s much too early to tell. Sunday is the peak of hurricane season.”
Anderson said the area should expect 2- to 5 inches of rain, isolated tornadoes and possible tropical storm force winds beginning Sunday night.
“Currently, there are no Red Cross shelters in Jefferson County. Red Cross is short of resources and personnel,” he said and added shelters are being coordinated through GEMA.
On Sunday, Sept. 10, the National Weather Service placed Jefferson County under a Tropical Storm Warning. It is anticipated Jefferson County could experience winds of up to Tropical Storm Force after midnight Sunday, Sept. 10, and continue Monday, Sept. 11. As a protective measure, Jefferson County will be opening a “Refuge of Last Resort” for anyone who feels the need to leave their residence during this time of potential high winds. This is not a Red Cross shelter.
The refuge will be at the Jefferson County Recreation Department Gym located at 1377 Highway 17 South, Louisville. It will open at 6 p.m. Sunday and remain open until the Tropical Storm Warning expires.
Some area nursing homes have accepted evacuees from nursing homes in the Savannah area. Anderson said Vero Health & Rehab in Wadley is expecting 55 with staff. He said he did not know if they had arrived as of Friday at noon.
The worst weather for this area is forecast for Sunday, Sept. 10, at 8 p.m. through Monday, Sept. 11, at 8 p.m. in both Glascock and Jefferson counties.
Mike Lyons, EMA director for Glascock County, said they are at risk for tornados, as well.
“It just depends on how far (Hurricane Irma) comes in,” he said. “One of my concerns is fuel.”
Lyons said with people coming up from Florida there will be a greater than usual need for fuel.
“If they run out of fuel and you don’t have any fuel to give them, they’re pretty much stuck. So that’s my concern. We already have some evacuees in our nursing home that came from Savannah,” he said, adding he thought the number was about 19.
“Sunday at 8 p.m. to Monday at 8 p.m. that’s when we expect the tropical storm winds,” he said. The Glascock County area should receive about 3- to 4 inches of rain.
“That’s what they’re saying right now,” Lyons said Friday. His advice for area residents is to stay calm.
“Don’t go out and buy all the supplies, all the fuel and all the water. Yeah they need to get them; but, that’s the kind of thing that creates panic,” he said.
Glascock County Sheriff Jeremy Kelley said the county’s first responders and firefighters are prepared for whatever happens.
“The sheriff’s department is prepared,” he said.
“I encourage all residents of Glascock County to sign up for CodeRed,” said Lori Boyen, Glascock County Commission Chairman.
“CodeRed is a notification service utilized by the county and is free of charge to our residents. Please go to www.glascockcountyga.com and scroll to the bottom of the home page. Click on the CodeRed link and register all of your contact information. This system is utilized for countywide announcements as well as announcements for specific areas such as a road closure. This is a great way for people to stay informed, so please register,” she said.
CodeRed is also available to Jefferson County residents.
“This would be a great time to sign up for CodeRed, which is the Emergency Notification System used by Jefferson County to notify citizens of emergencies that may affect them,” Anderson said. “To receive these notifications you may go to https://public.coderedweb.com/cne/en-US/499FBAD27727 and complete the registration form to sign up. You may follow Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency on Facebook for updates as well.”
Jefferson County Administrator Adam Brett said the county has done a few things to prepare not only for the hurricane but also for its aftermath and cleanup.
He said the county has plenty of diesel to run vehicles for the road and other departments.
“All generators have been tested. We’re expecting tropical storm type winds Sunday through Monday,” he said. “Public Works Director Ken Thomas has stationed equipment throughout the county ready to move.”
Brett said other departments are ready to deal with the cleanup and back-up generators are ready. Batteries in the communication systems, including 911, have been replaced.
“We’re preparing for the worst, hoping for the best,” he said.
“Currently Hurricane Irma is a Category 5 Hurricane with sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts over 200 mph,” Anderson said Thursday.
“It is difficult to say at this time exactly where Hurricane Irma will go and how strong it will be when it gets there. National Hurricane Center has ‘low confidence’ in any forecast past three days as the margin of error is 175 mph and 225 mph respectively,” he said. “Forecast conditions will possibly change with each forecast until the storm is closer to our area.”
Anderson said he is urging everyone to monitor local media for updates and recommends protective measures.
Steven Chalker, director of public relations with Jefferson Energy Cooperative, said all JEC personnel are on stand-by should the hurricane affect the co-op’s service area.
“Additional crews are on stand-by to assist if needed,” he said. “We ask all JEC members to report all outages and stay away from downed power lines.”
Weather forecast for the next few days beginning Sunday, Sept. 10, as of 1 p.m.
Sunday, cloudy, temperatures between 70 and 60, precipitation at 20 percent, 56 percent humidity, winds at 16 mph.
Monday, heavy rain/wind, temperatures between 71 and 63, precipitation at 100 percent, 93 percent humidity, winds at 41 mph.
Tuesday, partly cloudy, temperatures between 78 and 61, precipitation at 10 percent, 77 percent humidity, winds at 11 mph.
Wednesday, partly cloudy, temperatures between 83 and 64, precipitation at 10 percent, 70 percent humidity, winds at 9 mph.
Thursday, a.m. showers, temperatures between 85 and 65, precipitation at 50 percent, 75 percent humidity, winds at 8 mph.
Sunday, cloudy, temperatures between 71 and 59, precipitation at 10 percent, 54 percent humidity, winds at 16 mph.
Monday, heavy rain and wind, temperatures between 68 and 62, precipitation at 100 percent, 92 percent humidity, winds at 39 mph.
Tuesday, partly cloudy, temperatures between 76 and 61, precipitation at 20 percent precipitation, 78 percent humidity, winds at 12 mph.
Wednesday, p.m. showers, temperatures between 82 and 64, precipitation at 40 percent, 69 percent humidity, winds at 8 mph.
Thursday, a.m. showers, temperatures between 83 and 64, precipitation at 30, 76 percent humidity, winds at 7 mph.