Shelves of bottled water at several Statesboro grocery and retail stores were bare Wednesday afternoon as people stocked up in preparation for Hurricane Irma, even though the storm was still four days away from possibly impacting the area.
However, at this point, the massive storm’s path remains uncertain, said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn.
While authorities are waiting until Friday to make solid plans regarding Hurricane Irma, residents of Bulloch and surrounding counties are advised to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, he said.
Typically unpredictable, the storm could take an unexpected turn. Wynn said authorities plan to meet at 9 a.m. Friday to determine safety plans, as the path of the storm will clearer at that point.
There is no expectation of flooding this far inland, except for possible localized flooding in case of heavy rains.
“Our creeks and rivers are capable” of handling major rainfall, he said, adding that Irma is a “fast-moving storm” and isn’t expected to linger.
The biggest concern should Irma turn this way is possible wind damage. Hurricane-force winds, or even tropical storm-force winds, paired with saturated soil makes it likely that trees will fall and power lines will be downed, he said.
Residents should prepare for the storm by stocking up on bottled water and canned and nonperishable foods that can be eaten without cooking and by having a supply of necessary medications on hand.
Excelsior Electrical Membership Corporation spokesman Greg Brooks said his company is ready for the storm and advises residents to expect strong winds and the damage that comes with it.
“All eyes at Excelsior Electric Membership Corporation are on the projected track of Hurricane Irma,” he said. “In a briefing (Tuesday), meteorologist Jason Deese of the National Weather Service warned that whether Irma goes east, west or straight up the spine of Florida, Georgia is going to experience strong winds.”
Bulloch County is not a host county for evacuees, due to the possibility of widespread power loss here during the storm, so there will be no shelters available for those evacuating from further south, Wynn said.
Local residents are asked to “shelter in place,” he said. If, after the storm is over, there are “good Samaritan” shelter spaces available that have power, such as churches, they will be opened as needed.
Brooks suggested making plans now, before the storm strikes. For some, a lack of power can mean more than inconvenience; it can be life-threatening.
“Have a contingency plan in place for patients who have a medical necessity for electricity,” he said. “This can include backup power, extra supplies or an alternate location until the outage is over.”
Have plenty of flashlights, battery-powered lanterns and extra batteries on hand, and avoid light sources that require a flame or fire, he said. Stock up on drinking water, and fill bathtubs or other large containers with water for household use, like flushing toilets.
He also advised getting a portable radio with extra batteries for local information and a NOAA Weather Radio for weather warnings.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.