BY SARAH STEPHENS
This afternoon, Elmore County EMA Director Keith Barnett is watching the forecast carefully, interacting with various agencies in his area, and keeping his fingers crossed.
With Hurricane Zeta plowing through the Gulf with a bullseye on the Gulf Coast, Alabama is going to feel the impact. Exactly how severe that impact could be is left to be seen. But Barnett is urging everyone to prepare now, by having a NOAH weather radio close at hand.
“We know people are wondering about shelters,” Barnett said. “We will be sending out a post on that. But for Safer Places, we expect to open those later this evening as soon as we go under a Tornado Watch, or winds reach 20 miles an hour or more sustained.”
Looking at the latest weather reports, that could come tonight between 7-9 p.m. but we suggest you follow the Elmore County EMA Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/elmorecoema
Or their website at https://elmorecoema.com/
For information about the Safer Places in this area, visit https://elmorecoema.com/safer-places-program/
We will also be sharing updates as we can to the Elmore/Autauga News website and Facebook page. On our Facebook Page we will have a pinned article at the top where you can report dangerous conditions, and power outages. But, remember, call the proper authorities such as power companies and 911 FIRST. We will be keeping a log of areas to be avoided for safety reasons that our readers or first responders report to us.
So What Can We Expect in the areas of Autauga and Elmore Counties?
Barnett said he wants citizens to be aware that the early morning hours will bring the biggest potential threat of wind speed as well as heavy rains.
“We want to make sure everyone has their NOAH weather radio for any watches or warnings. We have a marginal risk for tornadoes. Make sure anything around your property that could possibly be blown around is secured,” Barnett said.
This includes things such as lawn furniture, trampolines and garbage cans. Also, make sure your pets are secured and safe.
“Be aware, if you have to get out on the road for any reason between midnight and 6 a.m. there will be the possibility of trees and power lines down. Stay away from those. A downed tree could have live power lines wrapped within it, so do not attempt to cut up a tree, but instead call the proper authorities or 911,” Barnett said.
Prepare now for possible power outages. Never use candles as a source of light, but rather have flashlights handy with new batteries.
He said that power companies and some first responders will not be able to respond for safety reasons if the winds get up to around 50 miles per hour.
“So, because of that, there could be a backlog of response time,” Barnett said. “The biggest thing I want people to do is stay off the roadways if you can. If you are on the roadway, and come upon a fallen tree, or power lines, do not touch them. Call 911 immediately.”
“If there is a backlog, it is going to take a little longer to get roads cleared, and power turned back on. Please, we are asking everyone to be patient. Even in the morning rush hour tomorrow, there could still be some issues. If you don’t have to get out on the roadway, don’t. But if you must, expect some delays, or prepare for an alternate route,” Barnett said.
Barnett reminds everyone this could begin to get serious late tonight, and it will be a fairly long duration event from midnight to early morning.
He said that area agencies have been meeting, making plans, and are prepared for whatever may come their way. But, he stressed, the community at large can be of great assistance by staying home. In the event of damage, please do not get out on the roadways to look around. First responders could very well have their hands full overnight, and the less people on the roadways the better.
Here is truly hoping that our area is spared from any serious damage or injuries. But, it is better to be prepared.