Lowndes County braces for Hurricane Michael

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 8, 2018

LOWNDES COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- As the end of hurricane season nears, Valdosta and Lowndes County officials are preparing for what could be the worst storm of the season, and they're urging everyone to do the same.

Lowndes County Emergency Management said the biggest concern is the wind. There is an 80 percent chance for tropical storm and hurricane force winds to hit the area. That is why the county is asking for everyone to secure anything outdoors, like patio furniture, which could be picked up and damage homes.

At this time, officials are not anticipating the county will be hit by any river flooding, but said there could be flash flooding on some roads when the storm hits. The community is advised not to travel while the rain is coming down.

"It usually only takes a few minutes for those bands to move through and it becomes safe to travel again," said Paige Dukes, Lowdes County Public Information Officer. "If there are flooded roads, streets or bridges, we want to make sure everyone waits until that water has receded. You don't know what that infrastructure is going to look like under that flood water, so make sure that you turn around, don't drown."

While Lowndes County has not been hit hard yet this hurricane season, county officials said they are always prepared, a job that starts with utilities public works.

"They're looking at barricades, they're looking at roads that have the potential flood, they're looking at any weak areas that we have," Dukes said. "The same with water and sewer services, we have our local responders, our local law enforcement, as well as the fire department, that are making sure that their equipment is ready in the event that we do have enough wind here that we have down trees and power lines."

Many hotels around Valdosta said Monday they have not yet seen an uptick in bookings for those looking to escape the storm, but do expect more to come in over the next two days.

Right now, there are no shelters or sand bagging locations set up in Lowndes County. Officials don't expect them to be needed, but it is something they will continue to monitor in case anything changes.

There is an ordinance in Lowndes County that prevents pets from being left outside during severe weather. Pet owners are asked to bring any animals inside to a safe shelter if and when the storm hits.

Lowndes County officials said as of now, schools will remain open Tuesday.

Scintilla Charter Academy in Valdosta announced Monday the school will be closed on both Wednesday October 10 and Thursday October 11. School staff said updates will be provided via email and social media.