Columbia County getting ready for Hurricane Irma

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) — Columbia County is getting ready for the Hurricane Irma.

The county’s stormwater utility department and emergency management agency are preparing for the worst.

It’s still too early to tell if the hurricane is going to pass over Columbia County, but officials and crews are working around the clock to make sure the citizens of Columbia County are safe.

“Today, most specifically, we’ve had meetings with Columbia County leadership and all the department heads. Everybody came over. Tomorrow morning, what we are going to do is spin up the EOC in a practice run just to make sure everything is working,” Deputy EMA Director Shawn Granato said.

Granato and other EMA workers are hard at work tracking Hurricane Irma in case the storm passes through sometime early next week.

“To me, I think you always prepare for the worst case scenario. Worst case scenario is that the eye of the Hurricane flies right over us and sits right on top of us. Now all the models show that is not going to happen and that if it does come through the area it’s going come through relatively quickly. However, you still have that anticipation of what’s going to happen,” Granato said.

The county’s stormwater utility department is also anticipating the worst.

Crews have been out clearing stormwater drains to prevent flooding.

“Five inches of rain over 24 hours isn’t a problem, but five inches of rain over a half hour is a problem,” Engineering Director Steve Cassell said.

The county is trying to remind people that only rain goes down the drain.

Anything else put down there could clog up the system.

“If we get enough rain, the system is going to get overwhelmed, but what we don’t want is malfunctioning system causing a problem,” Cassell said.

County officials say you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to prepare for the storm.

And even if the Hurricane isn’t as threatening as expected, Columbia County will feel its impact.

“Not only are we going to see the effects from the storm itself, we are already working with coastal counties in Georgia about having evacuees come up here. We are talking with Red Cross and other agencies about shelters and how to get that together,” Granato said.

A reminder not to put grass clippings, yard waste or trash into stormwater drains.

Also, if you have an emergency, dial 911, but otherwise, if you have any questions or concerns, call 311.

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