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Hurricane season again, already?

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER Managing editor
It's moving swiftly toward a year since Hurricane Ivan swallowed this town.
While some residents are still cleaning up from the catastrophic hurricane, it's hard to imagine that this week is Hurricane Preparedness Week in Alabama, and residents need to gear up for the upcoming hurricane season.
Predictions were posted earlier this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for this season's hurricane activity. The agency suggests there is a 70 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season, followed by a 20 percent chance of a near-normal season and dwindling down to a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season.
Scientists predict a dreary outlook with 12 to 15 named storms. Out of those, they expect that seven to nine will become hurricanes and three to five will branch off to becoming major hurricanes.
The Alabama Agriculture Center released the annual precipitation the city of Brewton has received since the beginning of May, which came out to a total of 31.91 inches of rain. The average annual rainfall is 69 inches for this area. With six months left out of the year, the city is inching closer to the average rainfall.
Local Emergency Management Agency Director David Jennings and Chairman Larry White held a brief meeting at the Escambia County Bank in Flomaton on Thursday. The two men gathered local media outlets in an attempt to gain input on how to alert the public on incoming information, if a hurricane was to approach.
According to Jennings, the No. 1 problem for last season's hurricane preparedness in Escambia (Ala.) County was getting public information out quicker and sooner.
However, county and city officials in each municipality are working hard to acquire a central EOC. By acquiring a central spot, it would allow representatives involved with each municipality to be stationed in one central location.
One major step in the right direction came from an early morning meeting where representatives from all major municipalities gathered and discussed working jointly in the county to set up a major debris removal plan of action. Jennings said officials were looking to possibly use the city of Fairhope's debris removal system.
Jennings said that there was still a bunch of debris to be removed from Hurricane Ivan.
County officials are also looking to have determined distribution sites where residents of each municipality will be able to pick up items such as ice.
If a hurricane is to approach this season, Jennings said officials are working on submitting several public service announcements periodically to inform residents of what to do if a hurricane was to hit the area.