Local officials keeping close eye on Isidore

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, September 25, 2002

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP – Managing Editor
Local emergency personnel are keeping a close eye on the Gulf of Mexico as a Class 4 hurricane moves past Cuba with a destination that is very much unknown.
Hurricane Isidore, which on Friday afternoon was wielding winds of 105 miles per hour and moving in a west, northwest direction toward the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula, is considered a major hurricane by most standards.
County Emergency Management Director Bill Smith said Isidore has caught the eyes of weather and emergency officials throughout the gulf's coastal area.
Smith said it could be as late as Monday afternoon before anyone knows the direction Isidore will take.
Smith said if Isidore did make a path toward the Flordia Panhandle and Mobile, that it could arrive as soon as Wednesday. But, he stressed that hurricanes are highly unpredictable and that nobody knows exactly what path it will take.
Despite the uncertainty of Isidore at this point, Smith said this is the time for residents in Escambia County to get prepared.
Smith encourages residents to check their hurricane supplies and go over any hurricane plans that families may have in place. Be sure to inform relatives that you may need to stay at their homes in case of an evacuation. They should also make arrangements for their pets and make sure they have water and canned foods. Smith also said all families should be mindful of elderly relatives who may need assistance.
Rogene Martin, East Escambia Red Cross director, is also busy planning for a possible visit from Isidore.
She also said that more workers are needed for the shelters and that if anyone would like to volunteer they could take the course within the next few days.
Those who would like to volunteer can obtain more information by calling 867-3426 or 867-3467.
In order to actually open the shelters, the hurricane would have to be a Class 1 through 3. A Class 4 and 5 would mean residents should evacuate.
Martin is also working on confirming evacuation routes. She said the interstate would be closed to provide for one-way traffic going north.
She said if it is a smaller hurricane and people needed to use the shelters, they should bring blankets, pillows, medications and some other practical comfort items. The Red Cross is also urging those with special needs to make arrangements ahead of time with family, physicians or friends for care as there will not be a special needs shelter available due to lack of nurses.
Martin, like Smith, encourages people to try to make arrangements with family or friends before the hurricane comes.
Among the shelters that could be opened are the Brewton Community Church of Christ, Alco Baptist Church, Pollard City Hall, Little Escambia Baptist Church near Flomaton and the W.S. Neal Elementary or Middle Schools. The list of shelters will be reprinted and confirmed for Wednesday's Brewton Standard if Isidore is still a threat.
Smith said it is important for everyone to keep an eye on the weather and prepare themselves for a strong hurricane.
Isidore still poses threat
By ROBBIE BYRD – Special to The Standard
It is time once again for coastal residents to batten down the hatches and board up the windows in preparation for yet another threat from the gulf.
This time it comes in the form of tropical storm Isidore, which is expected to become a hurrican once again in less than 24 hours, said WEAR channel 3 meteorologists in Pensacola.
Currently brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, tropical storm Isidore is moving on a projected north easterly path at a speed of approximately 22 miles-per-hour and is expected to make landfall in southeast Louisiana early Thursday morning as a category one hurricane, bringing with it sustained winds of 80 to 85-miles-per-hour.
As a result, portions of the Gulf Coast ranging from eastern Texas to as far west as Destin, Fla. have been placed on alert. Tropical storm warnings are now in affect for all of the Alabama coastline as well as hurricane watches for much of Mississippi and Louisiana's coastal areas.
Although Louisiana is the projected site of landfall for Isidore's Thursday morning arrival, officials point out that predictions are never 100 percent.
WEAR meteorologists point out, however, that the path of tropical storm Isidore is much more likely to remain constant than is the predicted category one hurricane status that it is now expected to bring with it.
In preparation for Isidore, companies like Alabama Power have already begun
estimating the need for help in a post Isidore clean up effort.
With only hours left now before predicted landfall, estimates, coordinates and conditions are still constantly changing as Gulf Coast residents scramble to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.
The latest coordinates at press time were 22.2N, 89.9W, 480 miles south of the Louisiana coast. Wind speed was constant at 60 miles-per-hour and moving north at five miles-per-hour.

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