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Busy storm season predicted

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POSTED: June 1, 2011 10:59 a.m.

A greater number of severe storms are predicted for this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Therefore, Liberty County residents are urged to be aware and be prepared.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of change with all the weather,” Liberty County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Hodges said. “We’re watching all the storms to stay well ahead. There’s so many more and they’re of such magnitude. We’ve (also) always had tornadoes but never this many and not to quite this intensity.”

Hodges said experts are “in a learning process” because weather patterns are different than in years past. These new patterns appear to be producing more intense weather events, such as the storms that recently ravaged Alabama and Georgia, and last month’s monstrous tornado that leveled Joplin, Mo., in addition to the powerful earthquake and tsunami in Japan earlier this year, he said.

Hodges said scientists expect there to be a “lighter El Nino” this year, which makes the Atlantic prone to numerous and forceful storms.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic begins today and ends Nov. 30. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season began May 15 and also ends Nov. 30, according to the National Hurricane Center website, www.nhc.noaa.gov.

Hodges advises residents to buy a weather radio. These radios will warn people of tornadoes, some of which come during the night. 

“During a hurricane you get advance notice, but with tornadoes all you know is the aftermath,” Hodges said.

“The bottom line is (residents) have to have a plan,” said Mark Moses-Hunt, program coordinator for the Liberty Branch of the Savannah Chapter of the American Red Cross. “They have to have a kit and they have to stay informed.”

Moses-Hunt agreed people should buy weather radios, adding that these radios keep working when the power goes out.

“And have cash to be able to evacuate and evacuate as early as you can,” he added.

Moses-Hunt said when Hurricane Katrina came through and people began to evacuate “a three-hour ride to Atlanta turned into a 12-hour ride. The roads got jam-packed.”

He said Liberty County residents also should take their pets and pack medications and important documents when they evacuate.

Hodges said when the word is given to evacuate, Liberty County residents will be instructed to move west on Highways 196, 84 and 144. All the lanes will be opened and the evacuation will be handled on a staggered method, he said.

“We try to do it in phases and try to get everyone moving from the most vulnerable area to the least vulnerable,” Hodges said. “In our case, that would be the eastern side (of the county) first.”

He also recommends folks have an evacuation plan in place.

“It is so important that your family knows what you’re doing,” Hodges said. He said residents should let family members know when they leave, the route they will take and their approximate time of arrival.

Moses-Hunt reminds groups, businesses and churches that the Red Cross is willing “to go to any location to do presentations to help them understand what is necessary” during storm season.

Moses-Hunt is responsible for six of 31 South Georgia counties, including Appling, Bacon, Liberty, Long, Tattnall and Wayne counties.

“The Red Cross could always use volunteers,” he added. “We sent many volunteers to North Georgia.”

Moses-Hunt said the Red Cross welcomes “spontaneous volunteers,” but said to be properly trained it’s better for Red Cross volunteers to join the organization before disasters strike.

For more information, call the Red Cross at 368-2201 or go to www.nhc.noaa.gov.

 

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