"Lets get ahead of this thing," says Emergency Operations Director for Jackson County Rodney Andreasen, "and if it's not as bad as we expected it to be, that's even better. It's easier to ramp down than it is to ramp up." The Jackson County Emergency Operations Center and all other emergency personnel are all on stand-by and Jackson county residents are urged to started planning now for the storm.
Andreasen says he's planning to declare a local state of emergency Monday morning pending the approval of Jackson county commissioners. Andreasen says there's a good chance he will announce mandatory evacuations for those who live in mobile homes or trailers, shortly thereafter. "Find a place...a stick built home, something more structurally sound," says Andreasen. "A trailer is just not designed to withstand those winds."
He recommends those living in low-lying areas need to be careful too as flooding is a major concern with this storm...especially with the excessive rainfall the area has already seen in the last month. In fact, levels of the Chipola river are up. "We still have about 13 feet we can play," explains Andreasen. "But if we get 10-12 inches that's gonna quickly fill up, it's gonna go out of it's banks. My biggest problem is that in low lying areas people get cut off and then you're stuck."
Those looking to take shelter will be able to do so at Marianna High School of Caverns road. Residents and their pets are welcome but he says he can only guarantee the safety of you, not your pet. "They [the pets] will be placed in a separate building that's away from the shelter and not really designed to meet those standards as a person would be in that shelter," says Andreasen.
He adds this weekend is a good time to fill up with gas and get money out of the ATM in the event the region does lose power.