Officials in Walton County are receiving criticism from business owners about their reaction as Hurricane Isaac approached the coast. They claim the county jumped the gun in dealing with the storm.
The business owners say most of the problems came from the way the county worded storm information via emails, including information that led them to believe the Clyde B. Wells Bridge on Highway 331 would close. Highway 331 is the county's only north-south evacuation route.
However county officials say all the storm predictions pointed to a need to evacuate South Walton County. With a 14-hour evacuation time and a predicted landfall of Monday at 5 pm, they felt calling for a voluntary evacuation would be a necessary response.
"We take into account the economic consequences to these decisions as well and there is always a loss of economic resources when you have to do an evacuation," said Major Joe Preston of the Walton County Sheriff's Office. "But to be frankly honest with you, that can be made up, the loss of a life cannot."
County officials recommend the public continually check their emergency web sites for the most updated information during any future storms.