Hurricane’s exact path remains unknown
By By Lisa Tindell
Emergency response teams, power suppliers and law enforcement are gearing up to provide safety and recovery in the face of a storm that threatens the entire Gulf Coast early next week.
Escambia County’s Emergency Management Agency Director David Adams, said a threat is worth watching and is a serious reminder to be prepared.
Adams’ office is not the only office that’s playing the same waiting game.
Southern Pine Electric Cooperative has workers and supplies on stand-by in the event of a power outage situation related to the storm.
Alabama Power officials are also making preparations for the storm.
Bernie Fogarty, external affairs manager for the Mobile Division of Alabama Power Company, said his company is taking precautions for the storm and hoping for a miss.
"We are continuing to monitor the storm as we have for a few days now, but in addition to that, we've asked our crews to be on alert and put our supervisors on alert also and other key people to make sure their phones and pagers are charged,” Fogarty said. “We've been in contact with our corporate office with Southern Company affiliates about providing assistance if needed and also talked to our mutual assistance partners in the event that we need their help."
Harrison said Southern Pine workers will also be on stand-by should other cooperatives need help in their areas.
Fogarty said his operations center has made preparations far in advance of this storm.
"Earlier this season, we reviewed our hurricane plan," Fogarty said. "We have a new critical operations center, which is in a safe area of town and can withstand a category 5 hurricane and we've increased the inventory of materials for the storm season including some prepackaged kits that are ready for the storm restoration when crews are out of the area if they are needed. In addition to that, we've also expanded our list of vendors who are ready to provide materials and supplies for us in the event they are needed."
The Mobile Division of Alabama Power services 230,000 customers in Mobile, Escambia, Baldwin, Conecuh, Monroe, Choctaw, Marengo, Clarke and Washington counties, according to Fogarty.
Southern Pine Electric Cooperative serves members in Escambia and Conecuh County.
Although Escambia County was never the projected target for Gustav, the county could still suffer some damage and experience part of the storm.
Adams said shifts in the cone either way could make a dramatic difference in the wind and rain any community might experience.
Even though predicted landfall for Gustav was expected to be somewhere in Louisiana as of Friday evening, Adams said Escambia County will still feel some effects from the storm because depending on how large the storm is spread out.
Adams said until hours before landfall, any weather condition in the atmosphere could make the personality of the storm change quickly.
Adams said with so much space to cover before making landfall, it may not be known before Monday on just what will happen with the storm.
Adams said mandatory evacuations are not likely for residents in the county, but some shelters may be opened as the need warrants.
Residents who live in mobile homes, substandard housing or in low-lying areas should be especially watchful of this or any other storm that threatens the area, Adams said.
Adam Prestridge contributed to this story.