Hurricane Season Begins: Changes to Evacuation TerminologyThe countdown is over and the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season is here. Although hurricanes do not regularly make landfall in Georgia, the state's location along the Atlantic Ocean means communities across the state are at risk should a storm fall anywhere along the coast. Storms that form in the Atlantic and Caribbean have the potential to bring storm surge, high winds, tornadoes and inland flooding across Georgia; Chatham County is susceptible to the worst storm surge along the East Coast.
With the start of the season the Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) has entered into Operating Condition 5, which represents the normal day-to-day operation level during hurricane season when there is no direct threat posed by a tropical cyclone. Typical actions include reviewing and updating plans, incorporating lessons learned and regular and vigilant monitoring of the Atlantic Basin. When a tropical cyclone poses a threat to any Gulf or Atlantic coast state, coordination efforts are initiated.
This year CEMA took a long hard look at the word "Voluntary" when it came to evacuations. The word implies there is a choice; however, if a major storm threatens Chatham County residents must evacuate the county. Starting this season, CEMA will no longer use the term "Voluntary" Evacuation, instead we will use "Early" or "Recommended" Evacuation. The goal of the change is to make sure residents recognize the danger they could be in if they stay behind.
Tropical Storm Parallel Coast - RECOMMENDED South & East of Abercorn/US-204
Tropical Storm Direct - MANDATORY Islands and Low-lying Areas
EARLY South & East of Abercorn/US-204
Category 1 Parallel to Coast - MANDATORY Islands and Low-lying Areas
RECOMMENDED South & East of Abercorn/US-204
Category 1 Direct - MANDATORY South & East of Abercorn/US-204
Category 2 - MANDATORY Easy of I-95
RECOMMENDED Remainder of County
Category 3 - MANDATORY Entire County
Category 4 - MANDATORY Entire County
Category 5 - MANDATORY Entire County
Starting now and throughout the remainder of the hurricane season residents are encouraged to develop and improve their safety plans. Citizens can visit www.ChathamEmergency.org to find information on the 2012 season as well tips on how to better prepare. Residents can also sign up to receive free email and text alerts from CEMA should a hurricane or any other emergency threaten the community. Using the text messaging feature of your cell phone, simply send "Follow ChathamEMA" to 40404 (you will receive a confirmation text message). To stop receiving the text messages, simply send "Unfollow ChathamEMA" to 40404. Residents can sign up for email alerts on the CEMA website. CEMA urges residents to utilize social media during an emergency and follow ChathamEMA on Twitter and Facebook.