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Interim Emergency Management Agency director speaks to Rotary Club

POSTED: July 5, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Iowa's slow recovery from floods that ravaged a community near the Mississippi River comes as a solemn reminder that it is essential to prepare for natural disasters, said David L. McIntosh, acting director of the county's Emergency Management Agency. McIntosh spoke to members of the Hinesville Rotary Club and warned them that nothing is predictable during hurricane season.
Sunny skies can quickly turn to looming clouds, pouring torrential rain and high winds, McIntosh said. Now is the time to start preparing and it all starts with awareness.
"We've been pretty fortunate in our region in the past where hurricanes go, but we should always remain prepared," McIntosh said.
The last big storm that required county evacuation was Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
"We do get storms here," he affirmed. "It's just been over a long period of time, not in the most immediate past."
McIntosh thinks it is better for residents to be safe rather than sorry when a natural disaster strikes. Though professional predictions have been made, he said, the public should not try to guess what kind of season it will be.
"It's not if it's going to happen, it's absolutely when it's going to happen because it will happen," he said.
The predictions for this year from noted hurricane forecaster, Dr. William Gray "confirm that we're going to have an exceptional season," McIntosh said.
Echoing Gray, the National Hurricane Center predicts 12 to 16 named hurricanes for Atlantic basin.
"They agree with Dr. Gray on his prediction, that it's going to be at least as active as any other season we've had," McIntosh explained.
He said the county is prepared to deal with disasters but individuals are equally as responsible for readiness.
"It's our responsibility to assist you in preparing, but you are responsible for you," McIntosh said.
He strongly suggests families start making a plan and putting an emergency kit together.
"Everyone should have a plan and there's no reason not to have a plan," he said.
Aside from a plan and kit, McIntosh urges people to resolve any evacuation transportation conflicts.
He stressed the importance of using the predetermined routes during disaster evacuation to help balance the flow of traffic.
"It takes a lot of time to travel three hours up the road when we're evacuating all of coastal Georgia and South Carolina and Florida," McIntosh said.
Based on the Georgia Department of Transportation's designation, the evacuation route for Liberty County is Highway 196 to Glennville.
"Go with these routes," McIntosh stressed. "They've taken a lot of years of studies done to determine which is going to be best to move people away from the coast."
The public also should update themselves on the changes in national policies. For example, many people may know the standard instruction to set aside a gallon of water per day, per person for three days. However, the suggested length of time now has been extended to cover five to seven days.
"We found that three days just doesn't last very long during Katrina when they were evacuating," McIntosh said.
Emergency management is an "ongoing cycle," according to McIntosh, of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
 

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