Liberty County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Hodges, Deputy Director Larry Logan and EMA Specialist Robert Dodd told Hinesville officials last week that forecasters are predicting 12-15 tropical storms in the Atlantic this Hurricane Season, which starts June 1.
They made the presentation prior to the city council’s regular meeting. Dodd said forecasters predict 6-8 hurricanes with 3-5 of them becoming major hurricanes.
The season runs June 1 through Nov. 30.
Dodd said last season people stayed informed through the Alert Liberty system and through social media.
“More messages were communicated through Facebook last year,” he told the council, adding people should also have battery operated weather radios in case of power outages.
Dodd also told the mayor and council that the Coastal Health District has already opened its hurricane registry for residents with special needs.
Hodges said special needs cases are evacuated three days in advance of an incoming hurricane and require specialized medical transport. Anyone needing this service may register online at: www.gachd.org.
Dodd said no shelters will be open in Liberty County because it is a coastal community. He said county employees who are required to work will be placed in a sheltered location. He said the exception will be a “shelter of last resort,” if needed.
Dodd said everyone else should be ready to evacuate.
The Shuman Recreation Center at 800 Tupelo Trail will be used as the evacuation assembly area. This will be the staging area for people who need to evacuate, but don’t have transportation.
Evacuees will need to make their own arrangements to get to the Shuman Center. Once there, they will be transported out of the county to designated shelters.
After the storm, residents will be returned to the Shuman Center but they must have a means of getting back to their homes.
Hodges said that last year Hinesville Police provided assistance by giving rides to some of the city’s homeless so they could get to the Shuman Center and catch the evacuation bus.
City Manager Kenneth Howard said he would like the city’s homeless prevention program to be more involved, along with other organizations, in making sure the homeless community are taken care of during storms.
Dodd said the local EMA is implementing the state’s updated re-entry permitting process and is sharing the information with local government agencies to ensure each has sufficient time to complete the new permit application.
He said re-entry permits will now be issued electronically and are for use state-wide following a disaster which requires a phased re-entry. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency will be the lead agency in issuing permits but Dodd said the local EMA will continue in assisting with verification of businesses located in their county.
Dodd said L-EMA will continue to focus on educating the community on the updated process. Logan added they are working diligently in getting information out to the community so people can start making the necessary preparations now.
He said last week they launched Hurricane Preparedness week sharing information about evacuations procedures, prepping a hurricane supply kit, reviewing your insurance plans, getting your home storm-ready and post storm recovery efforts in your neighborhood.
To review those hurricane preparedness tips visit the county’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/libertycounty/
Logan also noted the L-EMA team will be holding additional briefings.
The next is at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Courthouse Annex.