Preparations still under way for Hurricane Ivan

By Ed Brock

Salvation Army Sgt. Brent Nevers spent last week in Florida taking care of the victims of Hurricanes Charley and Frances.

Now he's looking for volunteers to help the victims of Hurricane Ivan that is expected to make landfall near Gulfport, Miss. some time Thursday morning. He may not have to drive that far to be of assistance, since during the day Thursday the weather in Clayton County is expected to get very dangerous.

The weather for north Georgia will be "very active" from early Thursday to early Friday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Leary. There will be a chance of tornadoes in the area, winds up to 60 mph and eight to 10 inches of rain in some areas.

"There will be plenty of trees down and power outages," Leary said.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for the Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle to New Orleans. The threat of the storm caused thousands of evacuations from that city.

Forecasters say Ivan, a killer blamed for at least 68 deaths in the Caribbean, could strengthen back to Category 5, 160-mph power by the time the massive storm makes landfall.

Clayton County Emergency Management Agency and other county officials have been preparing for the storm. Hendrick Wilson, a shop foreman for the county's transportation and development department, has been sharpening the chains on the county's chainsaws.

"We've got to get them ready in case Ivan comes," Wilson said.

On Monday the Georgia Department of Transportation began taking steps to prepare for the storm. On Saturday GDOT sent teams of Highway Emergency Response Operators to south Georgia and they are staging equipment in Tifton and Albany in preparation for the storm. The agency is also preparing to "contra-flow," or one-way highways heading out of Florida and the coastal area.

Nevers, the commander of the Jonesboro Salvation Army Post, and his son took the post's "canteen truck," a mobile kitchen, down to Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie.

"We fed 1,300 meals a day to people who had no power and no water," Nevers said.

The canteen truck is now parked in Savannah waiting to be mobilized for Ivan. Volunteers can call Nevers at (770) 603-6258.

It's not too late to buy homeowners insurance, unless it's for coastal property in the storm's path, said Rob Bentley, a State Farm Insurance agent in Morrow. It's also a good idea to make sure the bill has been paid on your existing policy, Bentley said.

In situations like this State Farm usually activates its Catastrophe Team, Bentley said, allowing them to respond more quickly. The client should notify their insurance company as soon as possible.

"The responsibility of the client is to mitigate further loss," Bentley said.

That means that if a tree falls on a house and puts a hole in the roof the client should make sure to clear the tree off the roof and cover the hole to prevent further rain damage. But such steps should only be taken if the conditions are safe, Bentley said, and if the client's home is in an area that is declared dangerous and off limits by authorities they are not held liable for further loss.

"You should feel free to take pictures (of the damage,)" Bentley said.