County lead­ers, first re­spon­ders pre­pare for Hur­ri­cane Irma

The Covington News - - LOCAL - DAR­RYL WELCH dwelch@cov­

County and city lead­ers and first re­spon­ders got a brief­ing from the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice Fore­cast Of­fice in At­lanta and New­ton County Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (EMA) Di­rec­tor Jody Nolan Fri­day af­ter­noon as the county con­tin­ues to pre­pare for the lo­cal im­pact of Hur­ri­cane Irma.

Irma is ex­pected to pro­duce trop­i­cal storm force winds as it trav­els through Ge­or­gia start­ing in the south­east part of the state late Sun­day night. It is ex­pected to reach the In­ter­state 20 cor­ri­dor early Mon­day. Three to five inches of rain are ex­pected for much of the state as the storm passes through.

Nolan said to also ex­pect strong winds dur­ing the storm.

“It’s very likely that we’re go­ing to have sus­tained winds here for pe­ri­ods of time in the 60 miles per hour range,” he said. “Not just gusts that we’re used to when storms come in, but sus­tained winds could last long pe­ri­ods of time, so ob­vi­ously there’s go­ing to be a de­bris is­sue.”

Nolan said the county ten­ta­tively plans to open an Emer­gency Op­er­a­tions Cen­ter at 10 a.m. Mon­day at the City of Cov­ing­ton Fire Sta­tion No. 22. He said the du­ra­tion of the cen­ter de­pends on the track of the storm.

“We’ll prob­a­bly have at least six or seven emer­gency sup­port func­tions ac­ti­vated through the Emer­gency Op­er­a­tions Cen­ter,” he said.

“If there is a need that we do have here in New­ton County, we have a lot of re­sources avail­able. But then there may be an op­por­tu­nity for New­ton County to pro­vide re­sources as well if we have spe­cial­ized equip­ment or per­son­nel that they re­quest.”

Nolan said in cer­tain cir­cum­stances, emer­gency ser­vices may not be able to get to peo­ple as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“I’m sure dis­patch in a sit­u­a­tion such as this is go­ing to start pri­or­i­tiz­ing some of the calls,” he said.

He also rec­om­mended cit­i­zens be as self-suf­fi­cient as pos­si­ble and have at least three days of food, wa­ter and medicine avail­able. He said the rec­om­mended amount of wa­ter is three gal­lons per per­son per day.

Nolan said to ex­pect a lot of de­bris, in­clud­ing downed power lines. Fire­fight­ers said cit­i­zens should treat all power lines as live and not touch them at all.

Cov­ing­ton FireDepart­ment (CFD) Chief Stoney Bowles said civil­ians should not en­ter any area sur­rounded by yel­low fire line/caution tape until the area is con­firmed clear.

New­ton County Sher­iff ’s Of­fice (NCSO) Sgt. Cort­ney Morrison said Sher­iff Ezell Brown has put all staff on ac­tive on-call sta­tus, mean­ing that “any­time be­tween Sept. 8 and Sept. 14 per­son­nel are sub­ject to be called in to as­sist in any ca­pac­ity that is de­fined as nec­es­sary”.

Pied­mont New­ton Hos­pi­tal spokesper­son Syd­ney D. Walker pro­vided a state­ment from hos­pi­tal CEO Eric Bour, MD, con­cern­ing the hos­pi­tal’s prepa­ra­tions for the pre­dicted se­vere weather.

“Pied­mont New­ton is pre­par­ing our staff and fa­cil­ity for any se­vere weather that im­pacts the New­ton County area, en­sur­ing we have ad­e­quate per­son­nel and sup­plies on site and are ready to as­sist pa­tients dis­placed from other ar­eas af­fected by the hur­ri­cane. We’ll also be mak­ing sure that our staff are (sic) pre­par­ing our pa­tients and their fam­i­lies, pro­vid­ing them in­for­ma­tion and keep­ing them in­formed. As al­ways, pa­tient safety is top pri­or­ity.”

As al­ways, drink­ing wa­ter is im­por­tant dur­ing any sort of weather emer­gency. Nolan said any­body wish­ing to do­nate wa­ter can do so by drop­ping it off at any City of Cov­ing­ton or New­ton County Fire Sta­tion.

Dar­ryl Welch | The Cov­ing­ton News

Com­mu­nity lead­ers and first re­spon­ders pre­pare for the im­pact of Hur­ri­cane Irma.

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