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Hanna near miss to Ga.; Ike close behind

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    With Thursday’s prediction that Hanna would make landfall near the North Carolina/South Carolina border, Bulloch County emergency responders breathed a sigh of relief, but haven’t completely lowered their guards.
    “Hanna’s got Ike following close on her heels,” said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn Thursday morning as he met with county leaders to discuss the storms.
    Hanna appears to be heading toward landfall considerably northeast of previous predictions she would make landfall near Savannah, but given the unpredictability of hurricanes and tropical storms, anything could happen and emergency responders are still keeping eyes peeled, he said.
    But for the most part, “We are standing down,” Wynn said.
    Bulloch County personnel will be ready to assist with evacuees from Hanna, but of more concern is Hanna’s big brother Ike, already a Category 4 hurricane headed along the same path she took.
    Wynn compared Ike to Hurricane Andrew. “That storm ... knocks you down, then it floods you.”
    As of Thursday evening there were no plans for any Georgia counties to evacuate or for any roads to be contraflowed — meaning all lanes turned westbound as evacuees flee.
    But next week, Ike could be a menace, he said, although “It’s still too early to tell.” The storm, traveling west-northwest at 17 miles per hour Thursday morning, with winds sustained at 145 miles per hour, is projected to make a turn to the north-northwest, he said.
    Public Works Director Eddie Smith told Wynn “We’re ready, but let’s wait and see” what Ike will do as far as wind damage or flooding.
     Bulloch County Fire Chief Randy Walker, Statesboro Fire Chief Dennis Merrifield, and EMS Director Lee Eckles all said their teams are prepared for Ike’s fury should the storm bring turmoil to inland southeast Georgia.
    Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson, Statesboro Police Chief Stan York and other law enforcement agency leaders echoed statements that all forces are ready and keeping tabs on Ike.
    Statesboro is still the staging area for evacuee aid, and volunteers remain on standby regarding the need to help victims of Hanna, said Lynn Bowen, Bulloch County’s American Red Cross executive director.
    Wynn told  the group “We’ve probably had a good dry run this week. It looks like Hanna’s probably spared us, but we need to keep an eye on Ike.”
    Should Hurricane Ike maintain its ferocity and follow the predicted path that Hanna took, Bulloch County public safety officials will meet again Tuesday at the Emergency Operations Center to discuss response strategies, he said.
    County officials will be updated throughout the weekend regarding the status of both Hanna and Ike, he said.
    Weather forecasters from the National Weather Service and Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) predict rain across southern Georgia over the weekend, with some windy conditions, but do not expect threats of severe thunderstorms or tornadoes, according to reports.

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