Higher ground

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 20, 2004

Steady, bumper-to-bumper traffic heading north on Hwy. 331 kept Luverne policemen busy most of the day Tuesday.

Thousands of motorists passed through Luverne seeking higher ground as Hurricane Ivan inched its way closer to the Alabama Gulf Coast.

"We had an influx of traffic through our area on 331 south," LPD Chief Bob Davis said Wednesday morning. "Traffic started getting heavy Tuesday afternoon at 11 a.m. We had to start working traffic lights and were able to clear traffic out by 7:15 p.m. Since then, the traffic has been above normal, but has been flowing well."

Davis plans to have extra officers on duty throughout the duration of the storm not only for traffic control, but also for debris cleanup and to provide emergency services to the people of Luverne.

The Crenshaw County Sheriff's Department is also preparing for the worst. Late Tuesday evening, Sheriff Charles West instructed his deputies to fill up all the department's vehicles with gas in preparations for a shortage.

Crenshaw Community Hospital has also made all the necessary precautions needed in order to make sure it can serve the community.

"We've made sure that we are adequately staffed, that we'll have the doctors coverage we need, we got extra supplies, we ordered extra food and water and we made sure our generator was working properly and fully fueled," Hospital Administrator Allen Gamble said. "The hospital is prepared for almost every contingency and believes it will be able to provide full service despite any type of disruptions our area may have."

Gamble said if an individual can't get through to the hospital due to phone problems people can dial 335-1201 for assistance.

Not only were the roads congested throughout Luverne, but so were the aisles in local grocery stores. Shoppers flocked in droves to their local grocer to stock up on water, batteries, canned foods, charcoal and gas.

"We got a truck load of water last night and we're trying to keep everything as adequately supplied as we can," Super Foods owner John Wilson said. "We will stay open as long as we can, weather permitting."

Local grocery stores weren't the only businesses in town receiving an overwhelming amount of business. Local hardware stores were ransacked with customers buying out batteries, flashlights, duct tape and plywood.

"The last two days we've inundated selling items for the hurricane that's coming, Luverne Hardware's Ken Prevett said. "Throughout the six years I've been in the hardware business, the past two days have been the busiest days I've ever encountered. The phone has been busy and the street trade has been steady. The businesses in town, county and school officials have been boarding up windows and preparing for the storm. They have been buying nails, screws, tools, saws, rubber boots, rains suits and anything else they needed."

Prevett said the hardware store is sold out of batteries, flashlights, duck tape and rain suits. The store still has tarps, ropes, chains, concrete and various tools.

Lafreda Griffin, Crenshaw County School System Superintendent Kathi Wallaces' secretary, said that school closed at noon today and will remain closed through Friday. The system plans to re-open on Monday, but the board meeting scheduled for that day has been cancelled and rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 27.

Griffin also said Luverne School will dismiss at 1 p.m. on Monday in order for Tiger football players to travel to Horseshoe Bend to take on the Rebels in a regional contest, which has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. Monday night. Brantley is scheduled to play Ariton at 1 p.m. on Saturday on the road and as of press time, Highland Home planned to host B.B. Comer at 6 p.m. on Monday night.