County braces for Hurricane Florence
Tracking the future path of a hurricane is about as simple and predictable as herding cats, so no one knows exactly how Northeast Georgia will be affected by Hurricane Florence.
Forecasters expect Florence to make landfall as a Category 4 storm, with potentially devastating effects on North and South Carolina, as well as Virginia. But just before the current issue of the White County News went to press, some of the meteorological models showed Florence possibly taking a westward turn toward Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal responded to this prediction by declaring a state of emergency for all of Georgia’s 159 counties.
David Murphy, White County’s director of emergency management, advises residents to be prepared for whatever comes our way.
“Typically, we see heavy rain, high winds, and some spin-off tornadoes from hurricanes and tropical storms,” he said. “Please listen to local media and weather (forecasts) to stay informed of approaching threats.”
The governor’s emergency declaration added another layer of uncertainty to the situation. Many areas of the Carolinas are under a mandatory evacuation, and it was assumed that some of those travelers would seek refuge in Georgia. But if the weather is bad here, they may try for a different route.
Nevertheless, the welcome mat will be out in White County, and we might end up with a scenario much like we did a year ago, when the hotels in Helen – already hosting hundreds of visitors for Oktoberfest – were also crammed with Florida residents who’d fled from Hurricane Irma.
Assuming the weather here isn’t dangerous, there’s also the option of camping. Georgia State Parks has announced that if campgrounds and cabins are full, evacuees will be allowed to “dry camp” – that is, to set up camp in areas outside of the designated campgrounds (these visitors would have to bring their own water, but they will not be charged a camping fee).
Also, to encourage people not to leave their pets behind when they evacuate, guests will be allowed to bring pets into cottages and rooms that are not normally designated as “pet friendly.”
In addition, some parks will have areas set aside for horse boarding, for families who brought their horses with them when they evacuated.
For more information, visit www.gastateparks.org or call 1-800-864-7275.
As for White County residents, Murphy advises that even though we are too far inland to be hit with a full-blown hurricane, people should be prepared for weather-related emergencies, such as power outages. Safety tips and emergency preparedness information can be found at www.ReadyGA.gov.