Walton County Staying Vigilant Despite Diminished Threat - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Walton County Staying Vigilant Despite Diminished Threat From TS Karen

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Walton County declares a state of emergency in preparation for the arrival of Tropical Storm Karen.

At this point that declaration is precautionary. Though much of the expected rainfall has diminished, the Board of Commissioners said it's better to be safe than sorry.

It's a sentiment shared by emergency management officials.

"Folks can't let their guard down just yet," said Major Joe Preston with the Walton County Sheriff's Office.

He said the severity of Karen's impact may look like it's decreasing, but they aren't taking anything for granted.

"When we went to bed here in 2005, Katrina was a Cat 3. We woke up and it was a Cat 5. So, we always tell people to be vigilant up until it comes through...High winds and storms could create all types of hazards, from fallen trees to downed power lines," said Preston.

There's still the concern that the highly saturated ground from heavy summer rainfall could increase the potential for toppled trees.

Though the beaches were beautiful on Friday, Preston said the rip current risk is significant.

"About 1 to 2 foot of storm surge, we're currently experiencing rip currents that will intensify and get a little bit worse, so we're going to double red flag conditions," said Preston.

This means the water is closed and if you take a swim, the EOC said they are skipping the warnings and will be handing out fines.