Troy planning for worst-case scenario

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Gov. Bob Riley declared a state of emergency Monday night for Alabama, due to the &uot;imminent threat posed by Alabamians by Hurricane Ivan.&uot;

Before the emergency order, Troy City officials were preparing for what could be the worst storm since Hurricane Opal in October 1995 brought Pike County emergency workers closer than they had ever been.

&uot;We want to stay that close - based on Opal,&uot; Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said at a meeting of the city's department heads Monday morning. &uot;We hope we are totally wasting our time here this morning. But, it looks like Hurricane Ivan is coming right at us and we have to be prepared.

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Right now, we want to know where we are and, if there's anything that we haven't done, then let's do it.&uot;

Lunsford said all city employees are being placed on alert.

&uot;We want our employees to make plans and provisions for their own families because they will be out there taking care of everybody else,&uot; he said.

The mayor said the different departments will be asked to help each other out whenever and wherever there is a need.

&uot;I know you will, because you've done that in the past,&uot; he said.

James Flowers, head of the utilities department, said, in the event the city is hard hit by the hurricane, the main priority for his department will be given to lines going to the city's water wells.

&uot;We want to make sure that we have the ability to pump water,&uot; Flowers said. &uot;Then, we'll want to get power to the gas station that is the most convenient for us to fill up the city trucks. Also, we'll want to get power to a grocery market, to the hospital, the nursing homes the kidney dialysis center and other such facilities. That will be the game plan.&uot;

Flowers said the next priority will be getting power to the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time.

&uot;There will be those who are inconvenienced but we are going to get power first to the areas where the most people can benefit,&uot; he said. &uot;We'll do whatever it takes to get the most people on with the least amount of work and as soon as possible. While we're doing that, residents should consider safety first and stay away from downed lines and other dangers.&uot;

Flowers said there is absolutely no danger of contamination of the city's water system.

&uot;Our aquifers are 2,500 feet down,&uot; he said. &uot;Contamination is not a problem. Pumping is.&uot;

Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage said his department will divide the patrols into two 12-hour shifts to better facilitate service and manpower.

&uot;The police can't be everywhere,&uot; Everage said. &uot;So, we ask that our residents use common sense and exercise patience.

There might be situations where traffic lights are out and motorists will have to direct themselves.

"There is the possibility of using a generator out on Highway 231, but people are just going to have to use common sense when out driving around.&uot;

The best use of &uot;common sense&uot; is to stay home, keep away from power lines and stay out of the way of those who are trying to bring some measure of normalcy to a difficult situation.

&uot;We just want everybody to be safe,&uot; Lunsford said. &uot;So, I encourage all of our citizens to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.&uot;

The governor's emergency order puts the Alabama National Guard on standby, as well as Alabama units of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the American Red Cross, the Alabama Department of Transportation and the Alabama Department of Public Health.

No mandatory evacuation orders have been issued yet - not even for Mobile. However, Riley said state emergency management officials will monitor the situation.

&uot;Our No. 1 priority is to make sure every precaution is being taken to save lives, to protect property and to get people out of the danger of this very catastrophic hurricane,&uot; Riley said.