Dennis menaces area with heavy rains

By Shannon Jenkins

With the remnants of Hurricane Dennis winding its way across the Southeast, residents of south metro Atlanta should expect plenty of rain and wind today.

Laura Griffith, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, said that there is a 70 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the area today, with a 50 percent chance for the same weather on Tuesday and 40 percent on Wednesday and Thursday.

As of Sunday evening, Griffith said Dennis was expected to move toward northeast Mississippi early this morning and then travel in a northeastern direction.

"We are on the eastern side of it so we can expect some of the heavier rain and storms coming through," she said. "We're not expecting to get full brunt of it, but we are expecting some precipitation as Dennis moves to the northeast."

In Clayton and Henry counties, emergency officials said they're poised for action after the area suffered plenty of damage from the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy, which struck last Wednesday. The Atlanta Motor Speedway and Tara Field in Hampton were among the most severely hit, with damage estimated up to $50 million.

Amy Nicks, the Clayton County Fire Department's public information officer, said the usual quota of personnel are on duty, all the normal operations are up and running and contingency plans are in place to call in off-duty workers if necessary.

"At this point we haven't done anything out of the ordinary," she said. "We're just watching the weather and listening like everyone else."

The public information officer for the Henry County Fire Department said personnel there are doing the same thing.

"We'll continue to monitor the weather and will plan accordingly," Sabrina Puckett said. "We're always stay on ready. It's our job to be prepared."

Puckett said the department urges citizens to monitor the weather as well and make sure their household is prepared and an emergency plan is in place.

She also offered tips for keeping a disaster supply kit handy in times of dangerous weather from storms like Dennis. Supply kits, she said, should include the following: Important family documents in water proof containers; a three-day supply of water with 1 gallon per person per day; food which will not spoil; change of clothing and footwear per person; one blanket or sleeping bag per person; first-aid kit, including prescription medicine; emergency tools, including portable radio and battery powered National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration weather radio; flashlight and extra batteries; extra set of car keys and cash; and special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.

Dennis strengthened into a Category 4 storm early Sunday after blasting through Haiti and Cuba, where it is blamed for at least 20 deaths.

Along the Gulf Coast in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, approximately 1.4 million people were under evacuation orders.

Meanwhile, clean-up efforts continued over the weekend in Henry County from Cindy's damage last week.

Government officials authorized overtime for county department of transportation workers to run dump trucks to pick up debris from the storm, and volunteers were called in from out of state to aid in the clean up efforts.

Residents were urged to leave debris by the road side for free collection and disposal by county workers.

Daily Herald staff writer Michael Davis and the Associated Press contributed to this article.