County officials: Prepare

Published 11:04 pm Monday, August 27, 2012

Khahile Flowers said bread has flown off the shelves at the Andalusia Dollar General..

Government and emergency management officials had one message for local residents Monday as Isaac headed for landfall: get prepared.

Late afternoon reports showed the storm was intensifying in strength. Model runs were fairly unified, taking Isaac ashore near Southeast Louisiana late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning; however, models were continuing to show major differences in what happens after that. It is still uncertain if a trough of low pressure passing to the north of Isaac would turn the storm due north or bypass the storm, allowing a more west-northwest motion into western Louisiana.

“At this point, the system is southeast of us,” County EMA director Susan Harris told county commissioners, county department heads and members of the media Monday morning. “Meaning, we can expect tropical winds of 39 mph or higher and a lot of rain- 10 to 15 inches. We can expect lots of flooding, downed trees and power lines, and (the National Weather Service says today) we’ll see tornado watches.

“Right now, everything is up in the air, but residents need to get prepared,” she said.

At press time, a hurricane watch was in effect from east of Morgan City, La., to Destin, Fla., as the eye of Tropical Storm Isaac headed toward Louisiana with maximum sustained winds near 65 mph. The storm was expected to strengthen in intensity over the next 48 hours.

By Monday afternoon, winds were increasing locally and the NWS had issued a flood warning for the Blackwater River, near Baker, Fla., which affects Covington County, from Wednesday afternoon until late Thursday night.

The storm is expected to produce excessive heavy rainfall, as the latest revised forecasts through Thursday morning should range from 6 inches well inland, north of U.S. Hwy. 84, and up to 12 inches along the coast. The NWS is reporting that 15 inches of rainfall is possible locally – depending on the motion and intensity of the storm.

Commissioners gave Harris and County Engineer Darren Capps the authority to close county roads, if needed.

“People should understand that if we make the decision to close the roads, it’s for citizen safety,” she said. “It gives (the engineer) time to check the roads and make sure they are safe for travel.”

Capps said the road department is ready for the storm.

The Star-News will continue to monitor the storm and update this story as new details become available.