Gadsden County Declares Local State of Emergency Ahead of Hurricane Irma

Gadsden emergency meeting
Gadsden emergency meeting
Posted at 11:35 PM, Sep 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-07 23:56:59-04

GADSDEN CO., Fla. (WTXL) - Coming up with a plan and strategy to save lives...the goal of Thursday night's emergency meeting of leaders in Gadsden County.

"We were not clear on a lot of things," says Gadsden County Board of County Commission Chair Sherrie Taylor, "but we know that our emergency management team is working with state agencies but we needed them to bring their information to the citizens."

One by one, representatives from law enforcement, EMS, the health department, Talquin Electric, Gadsden County Public Works and the Gadsden County School Board stepped up to the podium, saying how they're preparing for the category 5 hurricane.

"All individuals who may need shelter, the school buses will pick them up at strategic locations that were identified throughout the county," says Gadsden County Schools Safety Coordinator Bruce James. "Our food service department has activated and if shelters are open, the food team department will provide meals for those at the shelters."

Three schools in Gadsden have been designated Red Cross ready shelters. They are Gadsden County High, Havana Magnet School and West Gadsden Middle.

While they can house a total of about 5,000 people, that's only one-tenth of Gadsden County's population.

After listening to the urgent need for resources by the county's emergency management director, commissioners voted unanimously to declare a state of emergency in Gadsden County.

"We are preparing," says Major Shawn Wood, the Gadsden County Emergency Management Director. "I don't know anyone who's prepared for a category 5 storm, so we're making preparations. We have a different population and sometimes have to help move them, so it takes us a minute to get moving and that's why we've started early."

County leaders say they do have a comprehensive emergency plan in place, but it's up to citizens to do their part too.

MOBILE USERS: Download our WTXL news app on your Apple and Android devices for the latest from South Georgia and North Florida. Also, download our WTXL Weather Now app for Apple and Android devices to get the latest local weather wherever you go. 

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for additional local news and hourly updates.

Copyright 2017 WTXL via Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.