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Pat Donahue: Being storm ready is a good thing
Patrick Donahue
Patrick Donahue, Editor & General Manager

Patrick Donahue

Editor & General Manager

Another storm, and largely another miss.

We were lucky this time around. Again. No injuries. Some trees down and a couple of houses that got hit by falling trees. For those who were affected, let’s hope they get the assistance they need to get back to a normal life as quickly as possible.

There are also lessons in just how much havoc a Category 1 storm can unload on people. Even on Monday afternoon there were still people without power in Valdosta.

One of the many lessons learned from the recent storms is how fickle and misleading social media can be.

Not far from Tallahassee, Florida, is Liberty County, Florida (county seat — Bristol), south and west of the Florida capital city and very near the Gulf coast. There’s also a Midway, Florida, just west of Tallahassee, and another Midway, Georgia, south of Homerville along U.S. 441.

So when a social media post declares a storm shelter open in Liberty County, officials here get calls about that shelter — which in fact is more than five and a half hours south and west of Hinesville.

Hurricane Matthew, which reached Cat 5 status, was a Cat 4 storm for longer than any other storm formed in October, according to Colorado State University. It led to evacuations here and then pummeled the Carolinas.

It was another escape from potential disaster, but that doesn’t mean we always will be so lucky. When I lived in Thomasville, we caught the brunt of Hurricane Michael, which came ashore at Mexico Beach, a popular getaway spot for folks in southwest Georgia. It was flattened.

We didn’t get any casualties but the property damage was enormous. It took several days for power to get restored. There were hundreds of trees topped onto power lines, buildings, homes, roads and some farmers, particularly those with pecan groves, lost most if not all of their crops.

For most of the storms that brew in the Atlantic, we can see them coming. The Gulf storms are the ones that trouble me the most — we’re on the northeast corner as they approach the Gulf coast, which typically is the most dangerous part of a storm. Plus, it gets between us and any evacuation route.

And one small deviation in course could put one right on top of us. The “spaghetti” models all concurred on Idalia’s general path, and one small wobble brought all that rain to Bulloch and Evans counties instead of us.

Though summer — on the calendar, at least, though not in terms of daily temperature — is about to be behind us, we’re about to enter the busy time for hurricanes. Hurricanes Michael and Matthew were both early October storms. Hurricane David, which made landfall in the Coastal Empire, was an early September event.

It’s no wonder that the state Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security has made September National Preparedness Month.

It is truly better to be safe than sorry. Preparing for a big storm is a task that shouldn’t be seen as an inconvenience. Living in coastal Georgia, we need to be ready when storms make their way here from the tropics.

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