Several county officials held a weather briefing at the Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Operations Center this morning to discuss a plan of action as Hurricane Irma approaches our area.
During that briefing officials with the National Weather Service gave an update on what is to be expected.
The National Weather Service currently has all of northeast Alabama under a Tropical Storm Warning until further notice.
With the main threat being high sustained winds, which will make travel on a school bus and high-profile vehicles extremely dangerous, Cherokee County Superintendent of Education Mitchell Guice and Board of Education Transportation Supervisor Harold Pearson made the decision to close all county schools for Monday. The Cherokee County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments has cancelled the 9/11 memorial service scheduled for Monday morning so that local first responders can prepare for the potential severe weather associated with Hurricane Irma.
The weather service said that for our area we could expect peak sustained winds of around 50 miles per hour with peak wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour by late Monday into Tuesday as the storm passes through. In addition anywhere from 2-4 inches of rain is expected to fall which opens up the potential for localized flooding.
County officials are asking those that live in mobile homes or campers to consider finding an alternative place to stay during the storm as the winds could potentially cause them to easily overturn.
County EMA Director Shawn Rogers says that storm Shelters will be opened at New Bethel and at the Leesburg FEMA Shelter beginning at 8:00 a.m. Monday for those that need a safe place to stay, additional locations will be announced as they are made available.
Governor Kay Ivey will hold a press conference at 1:00 this afternoon to discuss the states preparations for the storm. To coincide with the statewide state of emergency, at the request and recommendation of Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency Director Shawn Rogers, Cherokee County Commission Chairman – Probate Judge Kirk Day has declared and signed a local state of emergency.
There is also the threat of widespread power outages with this storm as numerous trees and power lines could be blown down. Now is also a good time to bring inside any fairly lightweight or high-profile belongings that may blow around in gusty winds.
Officials with the County Highway Department, Cherokee EMS/Rescue Services, all Cherokee County Fire Departments and Law Enforcement, Cherokee Electric Co-op officials, Cherokee Medical Center, the Cherokee County Coroners Office and Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency are all on stand-by and prepared when they are needed.
Also, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has warned that Alabama’s price gouging law remains in effect, prohibiting high prices for goods and services and imposing fines on those who raise prices in order to profit from the storm.