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Weather Patterns and Declared State of Emergencies Related to Hurricane Ian

By Carol Moore
LANIER COUNTY, Georgia Lanier County Emergency Management Agency Director Tony Galardo has informed the Lanier County News that he is continuing to monitor weather projects for Lanier County. According to Garlardo, the National Weather Service says that Lanier County residents can expect 2-3 inches of rain. There is also a 10-20% change for Lanier County to get tropical force wind gusts.

Galardo’s announcement comes as the state of Florida has declared a state of emergency in response to Hurricane Ian gaining strength. The storm is projected to make landfall as a Category 4 storm with winds up to 115 miles per hour. Florida residents are being warned to expect power outages and gasoline shortages in the immediate aftermath. Storm surges and heavy rainfall could cause life-threatening flooding throughout the state of Florida.

The National Weather Service says that Lanier County residents can expect 2-3 inches of rain.

Thousands of Florida National Guard troops have already been activated ahead of the storm to position supplies and prepare for the impact. In addition, both Florida and Georgia’s First Responders are prepared to respond to weather related events in addition to their normal daily work load. Day in and day out, our heroes in uniform selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to keep Americans safe. When emergencies like hurricanes strike, they are there to help communities prepare, conduct search and rescue missions, distribute supplies and support long-term recovery efforts.

This is difficult and grueling work, both physically and mentally, and they do it without asking anything from us in return. At this time, area Lanier County residents are asking what our local Lanier County Board of Commissioners and City of Lakeland Mayor have initiated to be ready for the storm. At this time, the Lanier County News is not aware of any ‘extra’ efforts made by the county or the city. However, Lanier County and the City of Lakeland and Ray City have highly qualified first responders who regularly prepare to handle our area’s emergencies – EMT
(Emergency Medical Technicians), Fire and both city police and county sheriff’s office. It is certain that this is a developing story as the weather moves across this region!

Severe Weather Safety Before the Storm

Losing natural gas service during severe weather and power outages is rare because pipe infrastructure is below ground. However, there are several safety precautions customers should take to keep you and your community safe.

Customers are encouraged to know the location of their natural gas meter.

Atlanta Gas Light advises customers to leave their gas meter on to maintain proper pressure in the gas piping within their homes or businesses and to prevent water from entering the lines should flooding occur. Most gas appliances have safety valves that shut off the flow of gas automatically if the pilot light goes out.

Your natural gas service should operate uninterrupted throughout the storm. Only Atlanta Gas Light or emergency personnel should turn the valve off. In cases of severe lightning, customers might want to unplug natural gas appliances to avoid possible electrical damage.

Customers are urged to report a natural gas emergency to the Atlanta Gas Light 24-hour emergency response line at 877.427.4321. The damage assessment and restoration process begins once the storm has passed and it’s safe for our crews to proceed with gathering information to determine the extent of service needs in affected areas.

Severe Weather Safety During/Immediately After the storm

Natural gas is injected with a chemical odorant called mercaptan, which produces a distinctive “rotten egg” smell. If the odor of gas is present when you return to your
home, immediately leave the affected area and call our 24-hour emergency response line at 877.427.4321 from a safe location. Never try to identify the source of a leak

If you smell gas, avoid using any potential sources of ignition, such as cell phones, cigarettes, matches, flashlights, electronic devices, motorized vehicles, light switches
or landline phones. A spark could ignite natural gas and cause a fire or explosion.

If flooding occurs and gas appliances are – or were – submerged under water, do not try to operate the appliances.

During clean up and repair after a storm, avoid causing damage to the gas lines by calling 811 before digging – it’s the law. This also pertains to removing downed trees
as they may become entangled with natural gas lines. Calling 811 keeps you, your neighbors and your community safe.

Following a weather emergency, ensure the gas meter is visible and that the area surrounding the meter is free of trash and debris. Mechanical equipment used after the
storm to clean up a location may damage an unseen meter. If a natural gas meter is damaged or gas line is exposed, immediately leave the area and call our 24-hour emergency
response number at 877.427.4321 or dial 911.

Although rare owing to natural gas infrastructure sitting underground, if your gas service is interrupted as a result of a severe storm, restoration time depends on when water
in flooded areas recedes, when customers’ homes and businesses are free of standing water, and when Atlanta Gas Light personnel can safely enter homes and businesses, and
appliances are easily accessible by technicians.

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