Tropical Storm Fay has lost strength as it moves northward up the Florida peninsula. While wind strength has diminished, Fay has dumped double digits worth of rain along its path.
Jackson County Emergency Management Director Rodney Andreasen met with government officials Tuesday night and decided to declare the county a local state of emergency.
By doing this, Jackson County will be reimbursed by the national government if flooding becomes an issue.
Fay has crawled across the state of Florida, saturating everywhere in its path.
Andreasen said, "Our biggest concern is rain and flooding and we've heard anywhere from four inches to 12 inches to 20 inches. Even though we've been in a drought, we just want to make sure that we don't have any flooding issues."
Expected to reach us as a tropical depression, Fay will still dump impressive rainfall amounts on the Wiregrass and Florida Panhandle, which is why Jackson County is getting prepared.
"Local state of emergency is just a precautionary measure; it gives us opportunity one, to have that in place for any monies we recoup. It also allows us to open our Emergency Operations Center if we need to and we don't see a need at this time to do that. It also provides us the opportunity to order evacuations if we need to because of flooding," Andreasen added.
Jackson County has an exceptional amount of dirt roads, and when you get heavy rains in a short amount of time, that could spell disaster.
"We have a lot of dirt roads in Jackson County, and if we have to repair those roads and we do not have a local state of emergency in effect, we will not be able to recoup any money from the Federal Government on those roads," Andreasen continued.
And, while nobody is anticipating serious problems with Fay in the Panhandle, a local state of emergency protects Jackson County from any potential costly problems, and allows the EMA to act fast.
Andreasen concluded, "If we have a local state of emergency in, we already have an executive order in from the governor. That allows us under presidential declaration to recoup most of that funding back and that does not put a burden on the taxpayer."
And, Jackson County EMA Director Andreasen reminds families to keep children away from drainage areas. As little as three inches of flood water can sweep someone off their feet.
The new Jackson County Emergency Operations Center in Marianna is expected to be open for use in three weeks. The building is built to withstand category five hurricane winds.