Washington County Preps

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Folks all around the Panhandle are gearing up for what appears to be a pretty powerful storm.

With hurricane history still fresh in their minds, county officials in Washington County met Friday morning to declare a local state of emergency.

Roger Hagan, Washington County EOC Director, says, "That allows the staff of the Emergency Management Division to open shelters, to marshal our troops so to speak, to meet what ever response needs that we have to."

Emergency Management Director Roger Hagan says the county recently finished road repairs caused by heavy rains earlier this year and the county is still working on the damaged caused by Hurricane Ivan.

"We will stop that this afternoon so that we can draw a line in the sand and say we've completed this much recovery. If we lose anything during Dennis we want to document what we have recovered because of future declarations."

Washington County has already called for a voluntary evacuation for low lying areas and mobile homes, but some people aren't sure when they should leave their homes.

Roy Ross, a Washington County resident, says, "I'm not sure if I'm going to evacuate just yet. I'm going to wait for a little more information from you guys and possibly see what we're going to do from there."

If Hurricane Dennis stays on its projected path, the evacuation will become mandatory by Saturday afternoon, and at least two hurricane shelters will be opened.

"Once we open our shelters anybody from any county will be able to go their."

That's because Washington County has a surplus of shelter space and is part of the state mutual-aide agreement.

The available shelters in Washington County will be Chipley High School and Vernon Middle School. Washington County has no certified shelters for people with special needs.