As Florida and Georgia prepared for the imminent, albeit unknown, impact that will come as the result of Hurricane Irma barging through the Caribbean and Southeast, officials in Forsyth County also braced for the storm.
Though exact paths and damage predictions were still changing by the hour on Friday evening, Forsyth County Fire Department Division Chief Jason Shivers said emergency personnel are treating the impending Irma as if “it could potentially have a significant impact on the county.”
“To do so otherwise,” he said, “would be a failure of our duty.”
Here are some hurricane preparation and response tips from Forsyth County Extension:
If your power goes out
- Use food from the refrigerator first, then frozen food, then canned
- If you rely on electricity for cooking, pre-cook some meals
- High winds and rain make it unsafe to grill during the storm – do not bring your grill inside for cooking
Make sure you have water
- While you can buy bottled water from a store, which may already be out or in a shortage, you can also simply fill up containers, jugs and barrels with water from the tap or house
- Freeze some to help keep frozen food good if the power goes out
- Fill a bathtub with water for washing and toilet flushing
Store or secure outdoor items
- High sustained winds are not currently expected, but 40-45-mile-per-hour gusts may blow through on Monday, growing stronger Tuesday
- • Bring patio furniture, potted plants, garden items and anything else that is not secured to a fixed object or in the ground inside
Forsyth County’s Emergency Management Agency began meeting twice a day on Saturday and will continue monitoring changing models.
“The latest forecasts are still showing the storm maintaining a more westerly northwest track,” Shivers said. “Which now brings north Georgia squarely within the cone of potential impact.”
Most importantly for Forsyth County residents, that impact also includes all of metro Atlanta, he said.
Shivers said the fire department and other emergency response groups, including the sheriff’s office, ambulance service and county departments that provide support functions for emergency response, have been planning asset allocation and will be communicating with each other throughout the weekend and into next week.
One decision they made was to not send firefighters or other staff to coastal Georgia or Florida, where Irma is looking to make the most direct and severe impacts, “until we’re confident Forsyth County is in the clear.”
Forsyth County remained under a hydrologic outlook issued by the National Weather Service on Friday that warned of “periods of heavy rain and isolated flash flooding and river flooding Monday and Tuesday.”
Storm rainfall amounts of 3-6 inches are possible for portions of north and central Georgia early next week, with locally higher amounts to be expected.
“Hurricane Irma will begin spreading rain into parts of central Georgia Sunday and Sunday night,” the agency says. “As Irma moves into north and central Georgia as a tropical storm Monday and Tuesday, heavy rain will spread across north and central Georgia.
“As Irma continues to weaken into a tropical depression, it will stall across the southeast producing additional rainfall Wednesday and Thursday, but amounts are uncertain at this time.”.
We will continue to monitor weather conditions throughout the weekend. Any additional cancellations will be made if an when necessary.Jennifer Caracciolo, spokeswoman, Forsyth County Schools
Soils are wet across the area, prompting concern of “both rural and urban flooding” from rainfall and runoff.
Gov. Nathan Deal told a news conference Friday he is not expanding his evacuation order affecting Georgia’s six coastal counties, according to The Associated Press.
Deal noted Irma’s path remains unpredictable and may still change and is still urging the state’s nearly 540,000 coastal residents to evacuate ahead of the storm even as forecasts show its center now entering far inland after churning up the Florida peninsula.
He did, however, extend the state of emergency to 64 additional counties, bringing the total to 94 counties.
Ahead of the storm, all Forsyth County Schools classes, as well as after-school activities and athletics have been canceled for Monday, Sept. 11 due to the storm, including all after-school childcare programs and adult classes at the Board of Education and Professional Development Center. Monday will not be considered an online learning day, according to officials.