With Hurricane Florence gaining strength in the Atlantic and heading towards the US East Coast, the extent to which Georgia will be affected by floods or high winds is uncertain; however, it’s always good to be prepared.
According to Pam Knox, University of Georgia Crop and Soil Science Agricultural Climatologist, even if Hurricane Florence does not hit Georgia directly, we are Pre still likely to see gusty winds with some tree damage, power outages, and the potential for isolated heavy rain. North Georgia residents should expect increased traffic from evacuees driving into Georgia from the areas directly affected by the storm winds and flooding rains.
As observed last year with Hurricane Irma, the path of a hurricane can be unpredictable, and as time passes, the projected course may change as the storm moves closer to land. Georgia’s coasts are already experiencing some waves from the hurricane and those will get larger as the storm gets closer, though the degree of the storm surge will depend upon where Florence ultimately makes landfall.
Florence is expected to remain powerful once it reaches the East Coast, and its strong winds and rain could affect areas far from the storm’s center, so everyone needs to know what to do before, during, and after a hurricane. Be prepared for some power outages and tree damage, even if the storm does not come near us. Remember, first responders may not be able to reach you for hours or days after a hurricane strikes, so everyone needs to know what to do to stay safe.
One of the ways you can prepare for Hurricane Florence is to stay informed. Sign up for local alerts and warnings, and monitor local news and weather reports. You can also watch for emergency alerts and notifications from the Liberty County Emergency Management Agency, as they will keep you updated with accurate information.
In addition to signing up for alerts and warnings, assembling an emergency kit, having a family communication plan, and knowing what to do and how to evacuate are also important. Don’t forget that there are also things to consider as a pet owner, including packing supplies for your pet, either in your own emergency kit or in an emergency kit assembled just for your pet. To learn more about making a plan for your pet, go to ready.gov/animals.
If the trajectory of Hurricane Florence shifts towards Georgia, authorities may advise or order you to evacuate. If that happens, grab your “go bag” and leave immediately. Keep important numbers written down in your wallet in case you cannot access the contact list in your phone. Often following a disaster, landline and cellular phone systems are overwhelmed, so you may need to use text messages and social media.
You can prepare to evacuate by planning for your entire household, including children, the elderly and any family members with disabilities, as well as your pets. Be sure to practice your plan with your family.
Coastal residents or those in low-lying areas should prepare a hurricane kit; storing fresh water, batteries and other necessities to cover several days without power; and preparing an evacuation plan. Since power may be out, keep enough gas and cash on hand to cover several days.
Remember that even if the high winds and floodwaters do not reach your home, you may still lose power and water. You may also not be able to leave your home for several days if the roads are unsafe for travel.
Protect your home and property from strong winds and wind-borne debris by bringing loose, lightweight objects like patio furniture, plants, garbage cans, and bicycles indoors. Try anchoring down items deemed unsafe to bring inside like gas grills and propane tanks.
Local areas may experience some freshwater flooding. The biggest thing with flooded areas is to try to stay out of the water if possible. The moving water can have more power in it than you expect or it might seem. If the water is moving rapidly then it can knock you off of your feet and carry you downstream. Also, be careful of driving through water, again, rapidly moving water may look safe but has a lot of force and momentum in its favor.
If the present forecast track of Florence shifts towards Georgia later in the week, Agricultural producers may need to consider moving machinery and livestock to higher terrain.
We are only halfway through the Atlantic hurricane season, and the tropics have become much more active since August, so this may not be the last storm we see this year. Take Hurricane Florence seriously, and use this as an opportunity to have your hurricane plan in place and follow any advice given by local officials.
As Florence gets closer, the forecast may change. Follow official information from your local emergency management agency regarding evacuations or other steps to take. For updates, official forecasts from the National Hurricane Center can be found at www.hurricanes.gov.
UGA Cooperative Extension has many resources available to help Georgians before, during and after emergencies. Whether the need is flood clean up or financial considerations, Extension offers valuable research-based information to support communities preparing and recovering from disasters. Visit fcs.uga.edu/extension/disasters for a number of resources on emergency preparedness and recovery information.