‘We dodged a bullet’

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Hurricane Nate weakened to a Category 1 storm once it made landfall

“We dodged a bullet.”

That’s what city of Atmore and county officials said days after Hurricane Nate churned through the Gulf of Mexico and hit a portion of the Gulf Coast before weakening and stretching northeast.

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Fire Chief Ronald Peebles said the city was prepared because top officials held meetings at different time intervals leading up to the storm’s landfall.

“We were prepared,” Peebles said. “We had all of our ducks in a row. We prepared for the worse, but were hoping for the best.”

Hurricane Nate made landfall as a Category 1 storm and struck the mouth of the Mississippi River late Saturday, and then made a second landfall near Biloxi on early Sunday.

According to CBS News, the storm had a maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour as the eye moved over Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.

Nate then moved east toward Mobile and Baldwin Counties in Alabama.

Peebles said Nate went far west of Atmore that the city only suffered a little bit of an impact.

“We just had a little bit of wind and rain,” he said. “I think we got more rain Monday than we did during the storm.”

Prior to the storm hitting the area, the shelter at Rachel Patterson Elementary School opened for those in need.

Peebles said there were only three in the shelter.

Mayor Jim Staff said he only heard of one tree that was down on Wilson Avenue as a result of the storm.

“It was up before 5 a.m.,” Staff said. “We had a tree down at Lucius Cemetery on Harris Street. We’ll get that cleaned up.”

Staff said the wind started picking up late Saturday night and early into Sunday morning because of the storm.

Countywide, EMA Director David Adams said the county was fortunate to miss the brunt of Hurricane Nate.

“Some of the earlier forecasts had Nate coming in our direction,” Adams said. “Even though Hurricane Nate was not a large or particularly strong storm, it did significant damage in other areas. The only damages or impacts reported to (the Escambia County EMA) were several fallen trees and some scattered power outages. It could have been much worse.”

Adams said Hurricane Nate gave municipalities the chance to get ready for the storm.

“This gave them the opportunity to test their plans and response procedures to be better prepared for when the next storm impacts this area,” he said. “I hope this storm also served as a reminder to the citizens as to how important it is for them to have an emergency plan and be prepared to act when needed. It is easy to become complacent and we all need a reminder at times.”