Storm Lessons

Published 11:55 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2006

By Staff
Story by Mary-Allison Lancaster and Kerry Whipple Bean
In September 2004, Hurricane Ivan hit the gulf coast with a vengeance and barely slowed before hitting Brewton, knocking out power for days and leaving many with damaged homes and businesses.
A year later, Dennis hit the county, leaving most of its damage in the Flomaton area.
Brewton officials learned many lessons from Ivan and storms that followed, said Ann Marie Sasser, councilwoman and chairman of the city's disaster preparation committee.
The city now has permanently mounted generators at its pumping stations, fire station and at city hall, which is the local emergency operations center in the event of a disaster.
Sasser said the city has also precontracted with a bus company in Evergreen to use four buses to evacuate residents who would have no other means of leaving the city - although city officials hope never to have to use that option.
Sasser also said she hopes to encourage people from the coast to evacuate through Brewton, not to it, because of the lack of adequate shelter not only for evacuees but for residents themselves.
While many in the country criticized the federal government for its response to hurricanes last year, Sasser said the city was treated well by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Ivan.
The county is also prepared to work with FEMA.
But residents shouldn't solely rely on government officials for safety. Local officials are advising residents to have enough provisions for several days.
Sasser recommends that government officials download forms they may need now to streamline filing and reimbursement after a storm.
East Brewton Mayor Terry Clark said his city is prepared to take action if a hurricane appears to be near.
Clark said the city had written a grant for the purchase of a larger generator. Unfortunately, the bids won't come in on time for this year's storm season.
However, the city does have six small generators and one 50 kw generator to run the city's water system.
As far as changing things from past events, Clark believes the city of East Brewton has things under control.

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