As Hurricane Irene chugged past Georgia’s coast, the call for action went out to local agencies to be ready for deployment if help was needed.
Randy Lacey, Polk Public Safety Coord-inator, said hurricanes could bring damage into Northwest Georgia by spawning tornadoes or causing torrential rainfall and wind.
He recalled that Opal, which hit during the mid 1990s, brought widespread damage throughout the area. State and local agencies partnered in the clean-up effort that included trees on roads and in public areas.
Lacey emphasized that all emergency responders are trained to coordinate such issues as moving families from dangers of flooding and opening shelters for displaced individuals.
Hurricane Katrina brought 18 tornadoes to Georgia in 2005, the most ever reported in a single day in August.
Rockmart Fire Chief Todd Queen, member of Northwest Georgia Incident Management Team, said there was more emphasis on quick responses after Katrina.
“I began receiving notice when Irene was tracking along the coast,” he said. “To assure I was prepared, I checked my equipment.”
Deputy Chief Randall Chupp is the training officer for Rockmart Fire & Emergency Services.
He said firefighters have been called to assist when there is major rainfall since Euharlee Creek often floods low areas in Rockmart. Some city streets, especially in Goodyear Village, are also prone to flooding.
There could also be a potential for mud slides due to drought conditions. With little moisture, brush and grass dries and are more likely to give way to fast flowing water, according to Chupp.
He said three from the department are members of the Georgia Search and Rescue team (GSAR). If there is a disaster in another part of the state, they can be deployed to assist in the area with greatest need.
Local officials also remind that September is National Preparedness Month, a nationwide campaign that stresses emergency preparedness. Everyone is encouraged to take simple steps to protect themselves and their families.
For more information on preparing for severe weather, visit www.ready.ga.gov or www.gema.ga.gov.