Isaac: The storm that wasn’t

Published 1:34 am Wednesday, August 29, 2012

From all appearances Tuesday night, Covington County “dodged the bullet” of Hurricane Isaac.

Susan Carpenter, county emergency management agency director, said a Monday night shift in the storm’s path took the local area out of the “danger zone.”

Harris, along with other representatives from area governments, schools and agencies, as well as state officials, attended storm preparation meetings throughout the day Tuesday.

Harris said a video conference call with Gov. Robert Bentley, state EMA staff and mayors throughout the state was also held.

“What we’re told about our area is that that shift west put us on the outskirts of those eastern bands,” Harris said. “We can still expect the wind and rain, just not as much.”

Harris said rainfall predictions range between 1 and 4 inches locally.

“And that’s good news,” she said. “We all were prepared, but it looks like we dodged the bullet.”

Each of the three area school superintendents said school will continue as scheduled today.

“We’re waiting and watching,” said county school superintendent Terry Holley. “We’re going to make sure we do what is safe for our students. We’ll monitor things as the storm progresses, but it looks like school will go on as usual.”

Andalusia superintendent Ted Watson said it was a “safe bet” students would be in class today.

“Of course, we want our students, faculty and staff to be safe, so please, exercise caution when coming to school,” he said.

As the storm headed toward the Gulf Coast, it was upgraded to a hurricane shortly after lunch Tuesday. Earlier in the day, Bentley lifted the mandatory evacuation orders for Mobile and Baldwin counties issued Monday. By the afternoon, storm surge was making an appearance in Gulf Shores and Pensacola, Fla.

On Monday in Florala, the streets were not filled with evacuees from coastal towns, Florala Chief Sonny Bedsole said.

“We haven’t seen much of a traffic increase at all,” he said. “It doesn’t appear that people are fleeing from the storm.”

At Jackson Honda in Andalusia, president Rudy King said locals and those as far away as Crestview, Fla., took storm preparation seriously.

“We sold at least a dozen generators in the last six days, all because of the storm,” King said. “I even had one (Tuesday) come from Crestview, because they can’t find a generator down where they live.

“I think people panicked a little bit here over the storm,” he said. “They filled up with fuel and did all the necessary things – which isn’t a bad thing. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Ahead of the storm’s landfall, only local business to announce a change in schedule because of the storm was Region’s Bank, which closed at 3 p.m. Tuesday and will reopen today at 10 a.m.