While Fay may not be the storm of the season to hit the Gulf, it is an important reminder that here in Alabama, we must be prepared for the possibility of storms affecting us this hurricane season.
We may not often receive the full force of a hurricane here in the Wiregrass; but, history has shown us plenty of damage can still be done.
Hurricane Opal entered Alabama as a tropical storm in October 1995 and Hurricane Ivan as a category three storm along Gulf shores in 2004.
Manager Mike Caskey of the Lowes Home Improvement Store of Dothan said, "We do have a few people that move into the area that really aren’t familiar with the strength of hurricanes in this area. We try to convey to them that they are pretty serious business and that they need to heed to them and pay attention to them."
Thanks to storms like Katrina, just about everyone is more aware of the potential strength of storms in inland areas.
"With Katrina, the awareness is there a little bit more now than it used to be. So, people tend to pay attention now a little more than they used to," Caskey adds.
Houston County Emergency Management Director Clark Matthews says, "We've brought all the municipalities in on a contract that's going on the street today for bid, and basically, what it means is everybody uses the same contractor, along with the county that elects to. It’s a cost savings to the tax payer; it’s easier to get rid of debris."
A debris cleanup contract was one of the reasons Coffee County was so successful in a timely cleanup after the March 2007 Enterprise tornado.
We are already six named storms into hurricane season and the most active months are still yet to come.
"We've seen a little bit of peak in the interest; customers are tending to shop a little early. We do encourage them to shop early because normally, when a hurricane gets into the Gulf, it's starting to get into a panic time," concludes Caskey.
With Fay sparing the Gulf Coast, we must look at this storm as a tap on the shoulder from Mother Nature; a reminder that we must always be prepared.
In addition to having multiple hurricane summits to outline hurricane preparation specifics, Houston County was the first of three counties in Alabama to have state certified pet shelters.