“We don’t want to let our precautions down,” Tim Padgett, Carroll County Emergency Management Agency director, said Monday. “Storms we’ve had in the past have been from these outer rain bands. The biggest danger is from rain-wrapped tornadoes that are hard to spot in advance by the weather service.”
He noted that when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, it spawned 18 tornadoes across Georgia.
Padgett said since this area has been in a drought and most lakes are down several feet, flooding should not be a danger. Up to 4 inches of rain could fall on Georgia through the end of this week, according to the latest forecasts.
Padgett held a weather briefing conference on Monday for representatives from several agencies around the county, including Carrollton and Carroll County Schools, public works, fire departments, cities of Carrollton and Villa Rica, Carroll County Jail, Red Cross, and the 911 center. All attending participated in a teleconference with the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City.
Padgett said, in case of a weather disaster, he will open up an emergency operations center at the McIntosh Room in the new courthouse.
He said one improvement over past storm seasons is an upgrade of the county’s tornado warning sirens. He said the sirens are now programmed to sound only when there’s a tornado warning in the area. He said that in the past, the sirens would sound anytime there was a severe thunderstorm during a tornado watch. That often caused people to disregard the sirens, he added.
“If the siren blows now, it means you should take immediate cover,” he said.
Padgett said the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) has come out with a new web program that can see real-time events at all locations across the state.
“They will be able to see events in Carroll County and know what areas were hit hard,” he said. “If needed, they could help with emergency management from their location.”
Padgett said this week’s emergency meeting was to “dust off” the disaster plans and make sure “everybody’s on the same page.”
Isaac is expected to make landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast by today or Wednesday — the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. That storm caused disastrous flooding all along the coast. A hurricane hasn’t hit the Gulf Coast since Ike in 2008.
Forecasters say it has been difficult to forecast the storm’s path. The U.S. National Hurricane Center’s forecast map shows that it could hit somewhere along a roughly 300-mile stretch of Gulf Coast across four states from southern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle. Those areas are under hurricane warnings.
The size of the warning area and the storm’s wide bands of rain and wind prompted emergency declarations in four states, and hurricane-tested residents were boarding up homes, stocking up on food and water, or getting ready to evacuate.
Officials in Louisiana’s St. Charles Parish near New Orleans have told its 53,000 residents to leave ahead of the storm. Some coastal residents in Alabama have also been told to evacuate.
Tropical Storm Isaac targeted a broad swath of the Gulf Coast on Monday and had New Orleans in its crosshairs.
Isaac blew past the Florida Keys and was rolling northwestward over the open Gulf of Mexico Monday. The National Hurricane Center predicted it would grow to a hurricane with winds of between 74 and 95 mph over the warm water.
Showers and thundershowers are in the Carroll County forecast for today through the weekend.
– The Associated Press contributed to this story.