By Ed Brock
Donna Pangle is planning to help the evacuees fleeing Hurricane Ivan like she helped the ones who came to the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton last week to escape Hurricane Frances.
That's assuming Pangle does not become a refugee herself.
The best forecast now for Ivan's path is that it will make landfall around Pensacola, Fla. late on Wednesday, said Kent McMullen, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. Then some time Friday morning and until Friday afternoon it will bring heavy rains and winds up to 60 mph into the Atlanta metro area.
"We're still uncertain where it's going. We just need to keep an eye on it," McMullen said.
The slow-moving, Category 5 storm, one of the most powerful ever to hit the Caribbean, has already killed 68 people in a devastating run through Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
Emergency officials in several Panhandle counties were expected to decide later Monday whether to order evacuations.
Ivan comes in the wake of two other major hurricanes, Frances last week and Charley in August, that left severe damage in Florida.
Last week about 30 groups of evacuees came to camp at the AMS, said Angela Revell, spokeswoman for the raceway.
But she doesn't expect as many to come this time, since Atlanta is in Ivan's path.
"They may go east or west to get out of the path," Revell said.
The evacuees who came up during Hurricane Frances to camp on the AMS grounds were "devastated," Revell said.
Pangle, who lives near the AMS, decided to lend the evacuees a hand. She brought them tents, offered them the use of a trailer, and even took in a couple in their 80s.
"They were in a little small camper and when it started getting rocky out there we didn't want them out there," Pangle said.
Over the day or two that the evacuees were camping out on the AMS grounds, dozens of strangers came by, dropping off food and supplies. Pangle became an ad hoc organizer of the aid, and she said she would like to thank all the people who helped out but whose names she never learned.
This time she is talking with members of her church and taking an inventory of who has what so they can be ready to help again. Anybody who wants to join the effort can call Pangle at (770) 233-8262.
The people of Clayton County should begin taking steps now to get ready for the storm, Clayton County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director John Dalton said.
"They should be prepared to be without power and have food and water to last three or more days," Dalton said.
They should also review their family emergency plans and make sure they have full tanks of gas in their cars.
Volunteers and workers with the American Red Cross are still in Florida, providing shelter and aid for the victims of Hurricanes Frances and Charley, Red Cross spokesman Bill Reynolds said. Right now the hurricane watch team for Ivan is stationed in Birmingham and the Atlanta office has not yet been asked to set up any equipment.
"Normally we do not put our volunteers and equipment in the path of an oncoming storm," Reynolds said.
No major shipments of relief packages have been sent from the Red Cross Disaster Field Supply Center at Army Garrison Fort Gillem in Forest Park.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.