Remember Hurricane Irma from a year ago? There’s another storm on the way and it’s following a very similar path. Hurricane Michael is on the way and Coffee County emergency officials are bracing for an Irma-like impact.
Local officials are meeting with Georgia Emergency Management Agency personnel this morning for the latest updates. After that meeting, they will make decisions regarding school closures, curfews, shelters, and the like. At Monday night’s city commission meeting, Larry NeSmith, local Red Cross coordinator, announced that there were no plans to open a shelter at the time. The Red Cross would, however, be constantly evaluating the situation as the storm potentially nears. If Michael tracks west, there is a good possibility that evacuees from the storm could come to Douglas seeking safety. “We’re on standby right now. But this is going to be a dangerous storm,” he said.
According to a press release issued by the City of Douglas on Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service in Jacksonville is predicting the possibility of strong tropical storm winds in excess of 40 mph with the potential for hurricane force winds occurring between Tuesday afternoon and Thursday. The degree of weather Douglas and Coffee County will receive depends on the path that Hurricane Michael takes and is subject to change. Currently, the path is showing that Douglas-Coffee County will have a direct or near direct impact and Douglas is under a tropical storm watch.
As the storm makes it way to the area, the City of Douglas is taking precautionary measures to prepare for the storm. Citizens are urged to begin preparing for severe weather which could include damaging winds which could lead to downed trees and powerlines. Areas in Douglas that are low lying and need to request sandbags, please call 912-389-3450, dial 3-1-1, or 384- 3302 to check availability of sandbags. Be aware of your surroundings. Report traffic light outages, roads that are flooded and downed powerlines. Be mindful and watch for emergency responders who are out during the storm trying to keep others safe.
Make sure you have emergency supplies such as an emergency preparedness kit, first aid kit, food and non-perishables, emergency equipment such as generators or flashlights/batteries, water for drinking and cooking, and charge your mobile phone or laptop. Acquire a reliable source of weather information which can be a weather radio, cell phone alerts, radio or television. Citizens and businesses should prepare for a mandatory curfew that is expected to be in effect Wednesday night through Thursday afternoon.
If you do not have to be out in the weather conditions, avoid traveling. If you are on the road, be especially careful of bridges and areas that water is over the road. Do not attempt to drive your vehicle through water that is across a roadway, turn around or seek another route to your destination. Tornado watches may be issued which means the weather conditions are favorable for tornado activity. If a tornado warning is issued that means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately to a basement, storm cellar, or windowless interior room.
For more information regarding the storm locally, call the Coffee County EMA at 912- 389-1705 or 912-384-5440. For all non-emergency related issues such as power outages, downed power lines, water over the roadway or downed trees, please contact the Customer Care Center by dialing 3-1-1 or 912-384-3302. Please be mindful that if winds are in excess of 35 miles per hour, utility linemen cannot begin to repair broken lines until the wind is less due to safety issues. For life threatening emergencies, call 9-1-1.