Ready for an Ivan?

Published 8:26 pm Monday, June 4, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell and Lydia Grimes
Pauline Ausburn's carport was blown away by Hurricane Ivan, the lumber stacked up in the front yard after the storm had passed.
Nearly three years later, she's waiting for the next big storm.
Despite a quiet hurricane season last year, residents and Escambia County officials are not complacent as another storm season gets under way. Hurricane Ivan, which hit the community in September 2004, left trees down all over Brewton and many residents without power for as long as a week.
Hurricane forecasters have predicted 13 to 17 named storms this year, with three to five of those being Category 3 or higher storms.
Adams said officials from Red Cross, the Department of Human Resources, the health department and EMA met recently to discuss what will happen if a hurricane hits - and where residents can take shelter. &#8220We have gone over shelter agreements and discussed opening and closing times for those shelters,” he said.
The group also discussed the receiving and distributing of commodities such as ice, water and food should the need arise.
One of the top priorities after a storm is to ensure that grocery stores and other retailers are up and operational as soon as possible, he said.
Wayne Martin, who works with the Escambia County Rescue Squad, said the department is more prepared now than it was for Ivan. &#8220We have a bigger generator now,” he said. &#8220It will run more things and is solidly mounted. We have MREs and chainsaws there, too. We had to do so much before when Ivan came. We certainly hope we are better prepared next time.”
Power supplies are certainly a determining factor on how quickly life can return to normal following a storm.
Johnson said storm-related materials are on hand now in preparation for any outages that may occur within the Southern Pine service area. &#8220We have extra poles, transformers, power line and equipment on hand to make sure we are ready to restore power should the need arise,” Johnson said. &#8220We always maintain our supplies and equipment so that we are ready at any time. With some of the storms we already experience in this area, we have to be ready on a moment's notice. The preparations we've made for the upcoming hurricane season are preparations we make all year long.”
Work by utility companies and road crews cannot begin for about eight daylight hours after a storm passes through any area, Adams said. &#8220Crews will have had an opportunity to assess the damages and make a good estimate on when power can be restored and to what extent that restoration can be made,” he said. &#8220It's after that estimate is given that determines whether there will be an urgent need for commodities like ice, water and food.”
Adams said his office has an operations and communications plan in place to help keep various departments and entities in touch with each other to smoothly coordinate recovery efforts after any major storm.
In making considerations on evacuations, Adams said many factors have to be considered.
When looking at the predictions from the National Hurricane Center this year, Adams believes it's all just a guess.
Adams said that predictions for the 2006 hurricane season didn't quite pan out as forecasters had said; however, the cycle of hurricanes does indicate that the Gulf Coast region is due for a hit.
Adams said his group is planning additional exercises in the coming weeks to keep up-to-date information fresh in the minds of those who are involved in the storm recovery process.
Even as county officials and emergency departments are preparing, individuals are getting ready for the storm season as well.
Brewton resident Ryan Davis said he has learned residents need to be self-sufficient after a storm.