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Madison braces for impact

Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.

During a special meeting of the Madison County Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday, Sept. 6, the Board declared a local state of emergency for Madison County. This declaration will extend for seven days. At the end of those seven days, the Board will reassess the situation and determine if another declaration is warranted. The declaration simply allows the county to streamline many operations and cut through much of the “red tape” that would be encountered in normal situations. It also allows different departments and agencies within the county to coordinate efforts. For instance, if it is determined that school buses are needed for transportation, the county could requisition those buses from the school district more easily under a local emergency declaration.

During the meeting, County Emergency Management Director Alan Whigham addressed the Board. “We have a game plan... We're ready to go,” said Whigham. Part of the plan for the county's departments include staging Road Dept. equipment in Lee and Greenville in order to more efficiently respond to road emergencies such as debris blocking roadways. Tri-County Electric will be using the local ball fields as a staging site for electrical crews. Road Dept. representatives will be in the communication center in order to help take calls that are road related. This will free up other personnel in the communications center to handle true emergencies. For the safety of road crews, whenever wind speeds are at 45 m.p.h. or greater, road crews are not sent out. Local volunteer fire departments will only be “toned out” for auto accidents and fires. These are some of the plans in place, many of which came about as a result of lessons learned during last year's Hurricane Hermine.

Local county residents are still encouraged to sign up for the free “CodeRED” alert system on the county's website at: www.madisoncountyfl.com and simply click on the “CodeRED” tab at the top of the page. According to the county's website, “CodeRED is an emergency notification service that allows Madison County emergency officials to notify residents and businesses by telephone, cell phone, text message, email and social media regarding time-sensitive general and emergency notifications. Only authorized officials have access to the CodeRED system.”

Some local churches have been contacted to serve as housing shelters if that need arises; however, the Madison County Central School is the only “approved risk shelter in our county designed to withstand storm-force winds.”

Local residents are encouraged to continue to monitor local weather conditions and take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their families and loved ones.

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