The State of Florida is preparing for what's expected to become a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday. While it's expected to make landfall southeast of the Panhandle, Bay County officials are not taking any chances.
"We have to plan for the worst and hope for the best," Mark Bowen, Emergency Services Director, said.
As of Monday night, The Emergency Management Center is operating at a level three or monitoring phase. Staff is currently tracking the storm by participating in two conference calls a day with the National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center and the state EOC.
The control center was quiet Monday but ready to go if the county needed to upgrade its operating status.
"We don't anticipate any evacuations like that so we're not having to focus on our clearance times, but this is just a good reminder that if it's not this time, it's going to be sometime," Bowen said.
Outside along the roads, it was a much different picture. Crews were clearing and cleaning roadside drainage systems, among many tasks, so they're ready if tropical weather were to hit.
"Human nature is to become complacent, and that's our biggest enemy so this is a reminder to everyone that we need to be prepared," Bowen said. "People just need to exercise some caution, really get ready for hurricane season, and this is a good reminder that we're going to be effected eventually."
Bowen said families should have an emergency supply kit with enough water and food for each person for several days. It's also a good idea to keep your gas tank full this week and have a communication plan if you were to be separated during a storm.
Bowen also advises against parking your vehicles or leaving other valuables near trees. Heavy winds and rain can knock over the trees or blow branches into those items.
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