Preparedness month came just in time for Hurricane Frances to dump rain on Columbia County and send its emergency officials preparing for possible evacuee shelters.
Columbia County emergency personnel survey the debris left in the wake of a tornado in February 2003 that demolished two trailers, strewing their contents over a half-mile from the Wheatley Farm on Clanton Road.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
With the rain came advice for the future from Pam Tucker, Columbia County's emergency services director.
"What we're concerned about is that the citizens get prepared," she said.
September is Preparedness Month in Georgia - an effort being overseen by the Georgia Office of Homeland Security and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.
Tucker said it's a time for residents to begin analyzing how they would respond to a certain disaster, whether it be a tornado or the remnants of a hurricane.
"They need to have an emergency supply kit and learn what safety procedures there are for each disaster," she said.
The most recent natural disaster to occur in the county, Tucker said, was the ice storm this past winter, in which ice caused schools to close, numerous tree limbs to fall and some to lose power.
Before that, she said, there was the tornado that hit the county in February 2003 near Windmill Plantation. In that case, she said, officials determined the tornado was an F-2, meaning it packed wind speeds from 113 to 157 mph.
Preparedness month also will help government officials as the Office of Homeland Security and GEMA will focus on how state and local governments can enhance their capabilities.
"In terms of vulnerability, one of our biggest threats is complacency," said Georgia OHS Director Bill Hitchens in a recent news release.
Tucker said threats to the county include everything from natural disasters to radiological incidents and a dam failure. Tucker suggests some of the following steps that residents can take to be prepared:
Have an emergency supply kit that contains a NOAA alert radio, a three day supply of water and non-perishable food, flashlights, extra batteries, first aid kit, manual can opener, dust masks, whistle and a wrench or pliers.
Establish a family emergency and communications plan and be more aware of the threats facing the county.
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