The exact path of Irma – the monstrous Category 5 hurricane churning in the Atlantic at mid-week – wasn’t known Tuesday evening when Pulaski Town Council met. But past history was enough to cause local officials to start discussing preparations should the storm eventually head this way.
As of Wednesday, Irma – with winds of 185 mph – was heading for a collision with South Florida. But some forecast models had the storm veering north and coming ashore possibly in Georgia or the Carolinas.
Either way, the possibility exists as in past storms that remnants of Irma could move inland and north – bringing heavy rain to this area.
Dr. John McElroy brought up the possibility of heavy rains hitting the area as Irma makes its way across the Southeast.
McElroy asked about the possibility of sand bags being made available to owners of property lying along Peak Creek in downtown Pulaski should heavy rains cause the creek to flood.
Mayor Nick Glenn agreed with McElroy over the possibility heavy rains could once again bring flooding to downtown.
Glenn asked Fire Chief Robbie Kiser about the possibility of having sand bags ready to keep rising water away from doors and other entry points of buildings located along the creek, and about plans in case Irma takes a path like Hugo did years ago when it blew through the area after making landfall near Charleston, S.C.
Kiser said the fire department would start getting sand bags ready on Wednesday, adding the town has plenty of bags and sand available. He said planning with the county’s Emergency Services Coordinator would begin as well.
“I think we need to tell people to start preparing now on their own,” Glenn said. Flooding in basements and especially along East Main Street, he said, would be possible if the storm travels near this area and brings heavy rains with it.
“Especially in basements of buildings along East Main Street from Washington Avenue down,” Glenn said, recalling that the last heavy rain to hit the area “brought a lot of water into places where there hadn’t been any for a lot of years.”
Glenn stated that dealing with the flooding that could occur would take a community effort.
“We’d have to call in volunteers to come in and help protect buildings before the water rises,” Glenn said. “Once the water arrives – it’s over – it’s already here.”
Kiser said the fire department could stockpile sand bags and get the word out to business owners downtown if “we see later in the week we’re going to take a direct hit.”
If the town dodges a bullet this time, Kiser said another storm – Tropical Storm Jose – is “right behind it.”
Glenn said if the town doesn’t have problems from Irma, there’s always the possibility of another rain event like we’ve had before.
By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot