WCFR prepares for possible ‘significant impact’ from Hurricane Irma

Walton County Fire Rescue is preparing for what they expect to be “significant impact” in the local area once the remnants Hurricane Irma pass through Walton County.

“It looks to be taking more of a westerly path than anticipated, which is very bad for Florida and will be bad for us too,” said Capt. Jeff Allen with WCFR. “We can say with a high degree of confidence that the path we’re looking at is probably going to have a significant impact on the local area.”

Allen said with the direction it appears to be heading now, Walton County could be in for a significant wind and rain event.

“With a more eastern path, we would have been looking at rain and possibly flooding, but with it taking a more westerly path, we probably going to be looking at rain and wind,” Allen said. “We looking at it beginning for us at around 1 or 2 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 11, with winds at around the 30 to 35 mph mark. That’s going to increase throughout the night to 50 to 60 mph sustained winds. This is the information that is coming out of the National Weather Service.

Allen said they were calling extra staff to ride out the storm at the Fire Stations if they could and they were gearing up to take care of both the wind and the rain.

“We knew there was going to be a lot of rain, and we were concerned about the usual basins flooding, but the wind makes it a little different. With high winds we are looking at power outages, trees and power lines down and even some structural damage,” Allen said.

Officials are asking that people not panic, but use common sense when dealing with the storm.

“They need to prepare now, take the normal precautions. Don’t approach downed power lines and call the utility companies when they can -unless there is an emergency situation We ask that they leave 911 for actual emergencies. Also, do the normal things – look after loved ones, elderly folks and people susceptible to danger,” he said. “We’ve gased up chain saws and are making sure vehicles are fueled up. We will have our normal normal staffing, but have put a call out for off duty folks who want to ride out the storm.”

Allen said when winds get up to 30 to 35 mph, they consider that getting up into the danger zone, so they are concerned about sustained winds even higher than that.

“The winds are expected to increase to upwards of 50 and 60, with the worst coming through at about 8 p.m. Monday. It is fast moving, but huge. It is being compared to Andrew back in 1992, and bigger” he said. “But we’re ready for it. We’ll be as ready as we can be. There is no state of emergency for us, but that could change.”

A state of emergency has been declared for most of the bottom half of Georgia now. Updated information can be obtained at www.gema.ga.gov.


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