Habersham Co. releases emergency weather plan ahead of Michael
Expected to make landfall along the Florida Panhandle Gulf Coast Wednesday, Hurricane Michael – a Category 2 storm expected to strike as a Category 3 – was then forecast to spread farther inland across parts of the Southeast, according to The Weather Channel.
The Weather Channel stated the storm will move quickly from Florida, across Georgia and into the Carolinas, which are still reeling from Hurricane Florence’s devastation this time last month.
Michael’s remnants are expected to move from Northeast Georgia into South Carolina Thursday into Friday, bringing “drenching rain,” with Habersham County possibly seeing up to 3 inches.
County Manager Phil Sutton released Monday to The Northeast Georgian Habersham County’s emergency weather plan, which states local officials will be obtaining regular weather updates from the National Weather Service in Peachtree City and Spartanburg, South Carolina.
“At this time, it does not appear that we are in the immediate path of Hurricane Michael,” it stated. “However, we will closely monitor the [National] Weather Service as it is highly subject to change as the storm approaches landfall.”
According to the plan, in preparation for Michael, the following actions have been taken:
Public Works: We will be clearing drainage ways and culverts. All public works vehicles have been checked and are prepared to respond to downed trees, flooded roads, and other public works-related issues. All chainsaws will be filled (fuel) and tested. All public works department staff will be on call during severe weather in order to respond to storm damage.
Fleet and Facilities: Diesel- and gas-storage levels will be monitored to ensure we are able to continue to operate at full strength in the foreseeable future. All electric generators have been recently tested.
Emergency Services: In the event the severe weather appears to have potential to impact our area, the following actions will be taken.
1. We will deploy two additional med units in addition to the normal four that operate 24 hours a day. These will be located at a: Cornelia Fire Station North and b: Habersham County Fire Department Station 9 (Deep Creek);
2. They’re able to staff three rescue trucks staffed with two persons at a. Station 12 (View) on Duncan Bridge Road, b: Station 13 on Habersham Mills Road, and c: either Station 9 in Hollywood or Station 15 (Macedonia) volunteer station. These units would be the primary response for trees and power lines down to keep the fire apparatus available for more serious calls;
3. The five fire stations which only have one person on the engine will be staffed with one additional person to have two on each piece of apparatus;
4. We will also be placing a portable generator with a lighting truck at the ambulance base station on Robertson Loop Road in case power goes out at that location. All the other fire stations, 911 center, fleet maintenance and road maintenance locations have generators to provided back-up power.
“We will have a contingency plan in place in the event something changes,” it stated.
E911 & Central Communication: If the 911 center or the radio towers drop the internet connection, we will switch from digital to analog frequencies, which will reduce our coverage level by as much as 60 percent. If we lose digital signal, we also have additional Southern Linc backup radios from Georgia Power in case of degradation in radio communication.
Utilities: Georgia Power typically uses our fairgrounds as a staging center for their vehicles.
As weather conditions are updated, the plan stated Habersham County Emergency Management Agency/E-911 Director Lynn Smith will continue to provide the Habersham County Commission and all public safety agencies with up-to-date weather information.
Although Habersham County employees had Columbus Day off, Smith said she did continue to send out weather information as she received it.
“The state operation center will begin staffing at 8 a.m. tomorrow (Tuesday),” she told The Northeast Georgian. “I will continue to keep everyone informed as things change.”