Bay County Prepares for Tropical Storm Karen

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BAY COUNTY - Bay County residents could see heavy rain and flooding similar to July 4, 2013 if Tropical Storm Karen continues to head toward Northwest Florida.

County emergency services officials say they're already making plans to prepare.

"Well we're taking the standard precautionary measures we would before any type of tropical storm or hurricane," said Mark Bowen, Bay County Emergency Services Chief.

Public works and utilities officials are already checking the county's storm drain systems to make sure they're ready if a storm hits. During the July 4th storm, one of the areas hit the hardest were homes by Deerpoint Lake.

"Our population is definitely sensitive to any type of rain event right now and this could pose an issue for us as we move into the weekend," said Bowen.

Because of that, county officials say they're keeping an eye on the lake by maintaining it at four feet.

"We're going to try to maintain it at that level. The reason for that is we still are uncertain as to whether or not we're going to have a storm surge," said Valerie Sale, spokeswoman for Bay County.

Officials recommend residents to fuel up, have cash, and buy gallons of water and non-perishable foods in case of the storm.

At this point, the emergency operations center is only monitoring the storm.

"We've got the capability to deal with it and that's the important thing. This community has experienced storms much larger than this in the past," said Bowen.

If the storm does gain strength, emergency services officials say the county's schools could provide plenty of shelter.

County officials say they'll be evaluating their contingency plans as they learn more about the storm.