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EMA director: Sunday tornado reminds residents to plan ahead

In Covington County only two trees fell due to the weekend storm system that killed 23 people in Lee County, but local Emergency Management Agency Director Susan Harris said that it is still important to prepare for severe weather.

There were 39 confirmed tornadoes across Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina on Sunday. With 23 deaths reported in Lee County, March 3 was the deadliest day for tornadoes in Alabama since 2011, when the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado killed more than 200 people. Initial reports indicate that hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed and dozens of people are still reported to be missing.

“We had two trees down on Open Pond Road, which is on the south part of the county,” Harris said. “And one of those trees fell on a vehicle. There were no reported injuries though.”

Before March 1, Harris said that the EMA was hard at work trying to get the word our about severe weather preparedness.

“We try to stress that March, April and May is our peak season,” Harris said. “So we started it off with a bang. It is very important to be prepared because we have just started tornado season and we have a long way to go.”

Harris said that people need to have a plan before the storm hits, so they can be prepared, just in case Covington County does get hit like Lee County.

“People need to go ahead and make the calls so they can have a shelter in the midst of a tornado warning,” Harris said. “We just need people to plan ahead and make sure that they have a place to go. Not only one place, but multiple places to go, especially if they live in a mobile home or a house that’s not safe.”

After preparing for the storm, Harris said that people need to take action.

“We had a lot of warning for the storm Sunday night,” Harris said. “So people need to take the information and just prepare. Our weather services may be wrong, and it might not be as severe as they say it is, but if they say it is going to be severe, then we need to just assume that it is going to be and be prepared.”

Harris said that tornadoes in the Covington County area have picked up vehicles and motor homes in the past, so people need to be cautious and prepared.

“Tornadoes can pick them up and put them in different areas. So you don’t need to assume that just because you’re in a vehicle or motor home, that you are safe, because it has been done here in the county.”

There is a freeze watch for the coming days in Covington County with temperatures expected to drop to the mid 20’s tonight and Wednesday morning.