Hurricane Irma is now tracking further to the west, which has increased the likelihood that Thomasville will experience tropical storm and hurricane conditions. As of Saturday morning, the National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch for Thomas and surrounding counties. With this in mind, citizens are urged to complete their hurricane preparations no later than Sunday early afternoon.
“This is a storm that has been difficult for forecasters to predict, as Irma has shifted further west than what was originally anticipated,” said Steve Sykes, City Manager/Utilities Superintendent. “With the anticipated path moving further west, the impact that we can expect is greater. This means those Thomasville residents and those that have arrived in our city seeking shelter need to be prepared. “
One of the biggest impacts that will come from Hurricane Irma is the high wind threat. This means that sustained winds can be expected in the 30-45 mph range. “At speeds of 40 mph and greater, it is not safe for our utility crews and emergency responders to be on the roads,” said Sykes. “This means that if you need help, assistance may not be able to reach you until the storm subsides.”
With strong winds come downed trees, which will in turn impact utility service. “Power outages are expected to be significant with this type of situation,” said Sykes. “We urge everyone to be prepared now for extended outages of one week or more.”
Sykes said that utility crews will work as quickly as possible to bring our system to full restoration, but this may be a longer process depending on the damage sustained. “We do have mutual aid agreements in place, but resources for this will be spread thin with so many outages anticipated throughout Florida and Georgia. We ask for our customers to please be patient but to also take steps now to withstand an extended outage.”
“For customers who are using generators, safety precautions should be observed,” said Sheryl Sealy, Director of Marketing. “The primary hazard with generator usage is carbon monoxide poisoning from engine exhaust. Generator users should be sure that the generator is placed in a well ventilated area.”
Other safety precautions for generator usage include:
-Generators should also not be touched with wet hands and should be allowed to cool down before handling.
-Do not run a portable generator in the rain.
-Read the manual carefully and note electrical load rating. Do not overload the generator.
-Do not connect the generator to the home wiring system, such as through a fuse box or circuit breaker unless you have a transfer switch that has been installed by a licensed electrician.
“Disconnecting the generator from the main breaker in your home is critical for the safety of our linemen,” said Sealy.
“There have also been questions from residents about shelters,” said Sealy. “We’ve been notified that there is space available at good Samaritan shelters in our area now. Information about these shelters is available through Thomas County Emergency Management.”
According to Thomas County Emergency Management, a Red Cross shelter is possible post event. Red Cross shelters prior to the event are available in other parts of Georgia. Information concerning Red Cross shelter facilities is available through Thomas County Emergency Management.
“The time for our community to ensure all preparations are made and in place is now,” said Sykes. “This is a very dangerous storm and we aren’t certain of her path right now. Today is the day that all final preparations need to be in place, and those preparations need to include plans for extended power outages.”
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