Hurricane Irma is proving to be very difficult to predict in regards to the impact expected for southwest Georgia. According to the National Hurricane Center, the track shifted more to the west on Thursday, which increases the likelihood of tropical storm and hurricane conditions in Thomasville. However, the track is not certain at this time and any shift east or west can change the game for Thomasville. With that in mind, residents are encouraged to prepare now for whatever situation Irma brings our way on Sunday.
“The City of Thomasville is preparing for multiple scenarios that could be felt locally as a result of Hurricane Irma’s track into South Georgia,” said Steve Sykes, City Manager/Utilities Superintendent. “While Irma’s track is still very much up in the air, we recognize that any shift in the track to the west could change the expected impact for Thomasville. With that in mind, our staff is ready to respond and we ask our citizens to also make sure they are prepared as well. “
“The time for our community to ensure all preparations are made and in place is now,” said Sheryl Sealy, Director of Marketing. “The weather is expected to be pleasant on Saturday, so that gives us two days to prepare before we start seeing changes in our area on Sunday.”
According to Ready.gov, one of the most important ways to be prepared is to have a family plan. “Make sure you and your family knows where to go should you need to leave your home during a storm,” said Sealy. “Having a family communication plan in place so that you can be assured of the welfare of your loved ones is also important.”
Residents should also take time to make sure they have a disaster supply kit prepared just in case. “Inside the kit, include a flashlight with extra batteries, cash, first aid supplies, extra medications and copies of important information such as birth certificates, insurance information and other critical papers,” she said. “Also, make sure your vehicle has fuel.”
Now is also the time to make sure your home and business are prepared. “With this type of storm, it is difficult to predict the expected impact to our utility system,” said Sealy. “It is likely that we could experience some outages and, depending on the damage, the repairs could take some time to complete and bring to full restoration.”
Having extra food and water on hand is a good way to make sure you and your family could withstand an extended outage, said Sealy. “Even if you are unable to find bottled water, you can fill jugs and pitchers you have in your home. Filling plastic zip lock bags ¾ full of water and then storing in the freezer is also a way you can be sure you have adequate water on hand.”
Ready.gov offers other ways to prepare your property for a storm, which includes clearing and/or securing any lawn furniture or other outdoor items. You should also secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas of debris. Clearing debris from drainage areas is also recommended. “The most important thing you can do to be prepared is to monitor weather conditions so that you know about changes in the storm’s path,” said Sealy. “We will stay in contact with our community on Thomasville.org, the City of Thomasville’s Facebook page and through the Nextdoor App.”
Nextdoor is another tool the City of Thomasville is using to strengthen communication and public engagement. The Nextdoor app can be downloaded free for iOS and Android devices. “Once you've downloaded it and set up your profile, the app will automatically make sure you're included in communications sent out by the City of Thomasville,” said Sealy.
City of Thomasville staff will monitor the storm over the weekend and, should Thomas County enact the emergency operations center, will have designated representatives in place to respond to emergency situations. “Public Works, Fire Rescue, Police, and Utility Operations – each department is monitoring the weather situation carefully and preparing equipment, vehicles and personnel according to established response plans,” said Sealy.
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