CITY BEGINS PREPARATIONS FOR MICHAEL

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A hurricane watch has been issued for Thomas County. Forecasts indicate that Hurricane Michael may be on course to severely impact Thomasville and make landfall as a major hurricane. In preparation of the storm, City Administrative offices will close tomorrow, October 9, 2018 at 12 noon and will remain closed through Wednesday, October 10th.

Thomasville residents need to take safety precautions, including actions to protect themselves and their family. Residents are urged to finish preparations no later than Tuesday afternoon and adhere to all posted warnings as the storm moves into our area. Anticipated high winds and heavy rain will likely cause localized flooding, downed trees and prolonged electrical outages.

Citizens can begin storm preparations to their own property now as follows:

  • Assess your property and be sure yard furniture, trash bins, yard toys and equipment are secured or put away.
  • Avoid performing any large pruning of shrubs and trees unless immediate disposal of waste material is possible.
  • Be sure there is no other debris on your property that can float or be blown away, as these things can block the storm drains and prevent the flow of water through our community.
  • Obtain a working NOAA Weather Radio.
  • Monitor weather situations and be alert to changing conditions.
  • Register your cell number with your City of Thomasville Utilities account to utilize the free Tville TextAlert outage reporting system.

The City of Thomasville has entered storm prep mode and city officials say are actively monitoring the situation and preparing for adverse weather conditions.

“Weather briefings began yesterday with Thomas County’s Emergency Management Agency and since then, the City of Thomasville has been reviewing our storm recovery plans and activating our preparations,” said Chris White, Assistant Utilities Superintendent. “We are taking the time now to make sure our City crews are ready to respond to any adverse weather conditions we may experience in our area.”

Some of the preparations City of Thomasville staff is addressing include:

  • Coordinating with Thomas County EMA and GEMA in regards to storm information;
  • Discussing mutual aid agreements with other utility providers for electric restoration efforts;
  • Clearing out trouble spots in the collection system to ensure the system runs effectively with the anticipated higher water flow;
  • Ensuring adequate personnel are on standby, and additional personnel are assigned to key city facilities—such as the Wastewater Treatment Plant, Fire Rescue, Electric Operations, Public Works, etc.—to respond quickly to storm damage;
  • Cleaning out catch basins, road culverts, and storm pipes of leaves, debris and anything that could clog inlets or culverts to ensure water flows properly throughout the city stormwater system;
  • Inspecting erosion control measures, open excavations and material storage at City construction sites and asking private contractors to do the same;
  • Ensuring all necessary small equipment—chainsaws, weed eaters, etc.—generators and vehicles are inspected and fueled and that an adequate fuel supply is on hand;
  • Verifying inventory of materials and supplies needed for restoration efforts;
  • Fully charging all handheld radios, cell phones, and other electronic devices and ensuring all internal and external communications protocols are in place.

At this time, 7-10 inches of rain and sustained tropical storm force winds are expected in our forecast beginning Wednesday morning. Severe weather, particularly of a tropical nature, can also impact utility operations, including electrical service. In the event of an outage, electric crews will work to bring customers back online as quickly as possible. Utility customers should have preparations in place prior to any approaching storm to sustain a loss of power. “Customers should make sure that they have adequate food, water, batteries, medications and fuel for vehicles,” said White.

“It’s also important that utility customers understand how to report an outage,” said White. “The best way to report a loss of electric service is by calling 227-5499. We ask our customers to refrain from reporting their outage to us through social media, as we may not be able to respond to their messages in a timely manner.”

City of Thomasville Utilities customers can also opt in now to Tville TextAlert, a free service that allows customers to report electric outages and receive updates on outages through text messages on their mobile phone or device. To sign up for Tville TextAlert, customers should call Customer Care at 229-227-7001 and verify that their mobile phone number has been entered into the outage reporting system. Customers will then simply text TVILLE to 85700. Normal message rates and data fees from the customer’s mobile phone carrier may apply. Customers who have previously signed up for Tville TextAlert will automatically receive the Auto Alert service and will not need to enroll in Tville TextAlert again.

White asked for patience when reporting outages in the event that our area experiences wide-spread power outages. “If we are experiencing numerous outages across a large portion of our system, it may not be possible for all calls to be answered personally by staff,” he explained. “In cases such as tropical storms, the call may be answered by the auto attendant. The most convenient method for reporting outages is to utilize the free Tville TextAlert system.”

Once the storm hits, White urges customers to use extreme caution when encountering downed lines and wires. “Never assume downed wires are inactive; always treat them as if they are energized and use caution.”

Electric customers should also be aware that electric service cannot be restored until any damage is repaired to connections on the residence that connect to the utility pole. “If the line is down between your home and the utility pole, there is a strong chance repairs will need to be made by an appropriately licensed contractor before we can reconnect the service,” said White.

Citizens should also keep the following city department numbers handy:

The City of Thomasville will monitor Michael’s track and post updates as appropriate to Facebook. Updates will also be posted on Thomasville.org. Citizens should continue to monitor the latest forecast and local emergency management information through the following websites:

National Hurricane Center, www.nhc.noaa.gov

National Weather Service Tallahassee, http://www.srh.noaa.gov/tlh