All systems are go for Bartow municipalities and certain businesses during Hurricane Irma, and the county is making adjustments to the early-week status quo.
“There’s lots of pieces to the puzzle,” Paul Cuprowski, Bartow Emergency Management Agency Director, said. “My job is basically to organize all that from a county level, but all the worker bees should get the credit.
“We’re in constant contact. [This] morning, what we’ll do is operate the EOC, which is the Emergency Operations Center, and we’ll start it off at 9 o’clock. If we need to grow that, we’ll grow that, and we’ll probably be open all night long over there.”
Cuprowski said EMS and representatives of the fire departments will man the EOC, and the road department will provide briefings.
While the Bartow County government agencies are readying themselves for severe weather, Cuprowski also noted many businesses are changing their schedules and operations for the effects of the hurricane depression that is expected.
“The hospitals are doing certain things and EMS is doing their thing, and even Home Depot and Lowe’s, they’re all doing different things — maybe rerouting generators that were gong to go to the Northeast, they’ll divert them and bring them to the South during an event.”
The effects of Hurricane Irma will not be as severe as once predicted, but Bartow can still expect high winds, with the worst of it coming between 8 p.m. Monday and 8 a.m. today.
City of Cartersville officials had their final briefing Monday morning, and all county and city schools closed Monday and today.
Local colleges also closed for the two days, as well as local government buildings, and activities were cancelled.
Georgia Power has mobilized 3,400 personnel to respond to potential power outages. According to a press release, “All of Georgia Power’s resources are being held and dedicated to storm restoration efforts in the state following Hurricane Irma.”
Georgia Power does expect widespread, extensive damage due to high winds, heavy rain and fallen trees.
The Cartersville Fire Department has “put into place an emergency operation plan that will include extra staffing and equipment for response as needed,” according to Chief Scott Carter.
The Bartow County Fire Department has off-duty firefighters notified to be available for recall if needed,” according to Chief Craig Millsap.
According to Carter, Hurricane Opel resulted in eight deaths in Georgia, all due to fallen trees, so “historically, this is the type of call we anticipate.”
Millsap said BCFD is “working closely with our roads department and have our own chainsaw crew capabilities for emergency road clearing to allow passage of emergency vehicles.”
Both fire departments cited the biggest challenge being finding manpower to deal with the increased call activity, while keeping firefighters safe as well.
Carter added, “If you need us, we are ready to serve you.”