Thomasville Times

Phone app would offer weather warnings, more via Clarke EMA

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Clarke County EMA Director Roy Waite said at the County Commission meeting Tuesday that another storm system with possible severe weather was expected to come through the area Thursday. He urged citizens to be prepared.

Severe weather has become a regular occurrence. Waite said that now what has been termed “Dixie Alley” for a path followed by storms across the southeastern U.S. may have surpassed the tornado alley of the Midwest. The latter can have storms that are more severe but for pure numbers, the southeast appears to be in the lead.

He remarked on the storm system from two weeks ago that pushed through the county, downing trees and power lines. The system of strong winds came into the county on the southwest along Highway 69 and continued to the northeast, taking down trees along the Winn Road, Zimco Road, Highway 84, near Clarke Prep north of Grove Hill, the Floral Creek Road and Old Highway 5.

At least two homes sustained what could be termed minor damage but Waite said the homeowners would probably not agree that the damage was minor.

Commissioner Rhondel Rhone said the state legislature passed a bill to create a fund that could aid property owners in cases where FEMA help isn’t available but he said no money was ever put into it.

Waite knew of the fund and agreed that it was unfunded.

Waite said that FEMA has raised the minimum for uninsured damages in the case of a disaster from $4 million-plus to $6.7 million.

While FEMA money is sometimes available for hurricanes because of widespread damages it is rarely available for tornadoes because of the limited paths of tornadoes.

Clarke County EMA used to have a phone app that would alert citizens to bad weather, tornado warnings and such. However, an Apple policy resulted in it being dropped but now the policy has been changed and Waite said the county may want to again offer an app.

Jackson Mayor Paul South offered to pay part of the setup fee and the annual cost to put it in place.

The setup fee is just under $10,000 with an annual fee of $4,995.

It was suggested that Thomasville be contacted for help as well.

Waite said a program could be used that would see the state contribute to part of the cost with county municipalities bearing the rest based on population.

It was noted that the app could also be used for road closures, natural gas leaks, chemical spills or other emergencies to notify the public via their phones.

Commissioner Rhone said, “Every citizen can benefit from this. As many storms and threats as we are having now, I think we need to move forward with this.”

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