Created: Wed, 07 May 2014 04:33:00 EST
Updated: Fri, 09 May 2014 10:32:39 EST
Hurricane season begins June 1st and runs through November 30. In the event another disaster hits our state, Bibb County is working with GEMA as part of Georgia’s statewide hurricane preparedness this week.
The Emergency Management Agency is training law enforcement and first responders as part of Georgia’s 50-50-5 hurricane plan: house 50,000 residents, in 50 counties for five days.
EMA Operations Officer Robert McCord says, "Exercising and training is always one of the biggest things you can do to help prevent catastrophes from happening."
Like in September 1999 when Georgia was part of the largest evacuation effort in American history during Hurricane Floyd. Three million people fled Floyd’s wrath. All lanes on Interstate 16 were reversed to allow only inland moving traffic.
EMA officials, Bibb County Sheriff's Office, the Macon-Bibb Fire Department, the American Red Cross, and the Macon-Bibb Health Department simulate emergency response procedures in the mobile command unit.
The Red Cross is taking in mock evacuees at the Macon City Auditorium. Disaster Program Manager Donna Lee explains, "We're handling things just like we would if this were a real disaster. We have people coming in that have never seen the building, they don't know exactly where they're going, as most clients do in a shelter. They don't really know what to expect."
Even animals are not exempt from this training day. The Bibb County Animal Welfare practices taking in pets at their mobile shelter. During disasters, most shelters cannot allow pets due to health reasons, so many owners stay with their animals rather than seeking a safe shelter.
Season Johnson with Bibb County Animal Welfare explains, "This will hopefully provide people with a safe place to take their pets, so they're comfortable enough to leave a bad situation and to go into a shelter."
Only four hurricanes have made landfall on the Georgia coast since 1911, but even when other tropical systems threaten our state, Macon-Bibb is prepared.