Valdosta residents were warned Sunday at noon by county officials to prepare for six hours of continuous hurricane-force winds at about the same time tomorrow.
Ashley Tye, head of emergency services in Lowndes County, held a briefing so all municipal agencies could coordinate ahead Hurricane Irma’s arrival along the Georgia-Florida line.
Tye said the six hours of intense winds are expected to begin, and be at its worst, about 11 a.m. Monday.
A storm must generate sustained winds at 74 mph for it to be classified a hurricane at Category 1.
Everyone was paying attention inside the emergency operations center room when Tye said that the county would likely see 24 hours of winds above 50 mph.
“It’d tickle me to death if the forecast isn’t as bad as they said, but obviously we have to plan that the forecasters have nailed it and unfortunately that doesn’t bode well for us,” Tye said.
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He expected tropical storm-force winds to begin at 8 p.m. Sunday.
Tye estimated that there are 1,500 shelter beds in Lowndes and about half of them are currently full. Evacuees in the shelter are a mix of Floridians who are now back in the storm’s path and Valdosta residents who are under voluntary evacuation orders.
He said the 405-bed Crosspointe Church, which is being broadcast as a shelter, is full.