Atmore braces for Ivan
Published 10:30 pm Wednesday, September 15, 2004
By By Arthur McLean
As hurricane Ivan continued its march up the Gulf of Mexico, residents and officials in the Atmore area prepared for the worst.
By Monday, plywood sales were booming as local lumber merchants sold over a thousand sheets of plywood by mid-afternoon.
Cars began lining up at the pumps at local gas stations, jockeying for position at the pumps. Grocery store shelves were bare of water and bread as shoppers picked up items they would need in the event power taken out in the wake of the hurricane.a
"We're getting everything ready, and we'll see what happens with the storm," said Gordon Liles. He and John Martin were cutting plywood and storing it in the Liles building in downtown Atmore Monday afternoon. By Tuesday, the building's windows were boarded up in advance of the storm.
Local police forces readied themselves for the onslaught of drivers from Florida expected by Wednesday. "We plan to turn the lights in town to flashing yellow along AL 21 when the traffic warrants it," said Glenn Carlee, director of public safety.
AL 21 is one of the evacuation routes for Florida residents.
By Tuesday afternoon, traffic was heavy along Main Street, but not enough to warrant special traffic details.
An evacuation of all areas south of I-10 in Mobile and Baldwin Counties was ordered by Gov. Bob Riley Tuesday afternoon. Department of Transportation crews stood by at exits 57 and 54 near Atmore ready to convert all four lanes of the Interstate over to northbound traffic. DOT officials said that call might come Wednesday morning.
Supplies like kerosene, propane and batteries were swift sellers throughout town. "We're almost out of kerosene," said one man at Bondurant in Atmore.
Some store began limiting customers on the amount of supplies they could purchase, while others did not.
The City of Atmore Escambia County began preparations with a series of meetings in Brewton at the Emergency Management center.
"We're making sure we have everything ready," said Mayor Howard Shell. "We have generators ready, and we're keeping our gas supplies topped off. We've been told we won't have National Guard units to help until it is deemed necessary, but I don't know who will be making that determination."
Red Cross officials were making preparations to open shelters if ordered by the state. Charlotte Boyle, director of the Atmore Red Cross unit, said Escambia County High School would be the first shelter to open, but those seeking shelter should bring food and items for children. Also, those needing special medical attention should get in touch with their doctors. The shelter is not equipped to care for special medical needs, Boyle said.
With Atmore to the east of Hurricane Ivan, the area can expect high winds and heavy rains, as much as eight inches, forecasters predict.