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Rincon officials lay out emergency needs
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Rincon city officials huddled quickly Wednesday afternoon to discuss what they might do in case of an emergency.

Prompted by the rains caused by Tropical Storm Fay, a group including Police Chief Michael Berry, Fire Chief Corey Rahn and City Manager Donald Toms went over what the city has and what it might need in the event of an emergency.

“I’d rather talk about it now than at 2 o’clock in the morning when we’ve got issues going on,” Berry said. “You plan for the worst and hope for the best,” he said.

His experiences in Newport News, Va., and the effects hurricanes have had on that area — Berry said parts of the city once were without power for two weeks following a storm — prompted him to ask other city department heads what the plans entail.

“Where I just came from we did this every year,” he said of the emergency planning. “We went through it so much. I’m from an area where it’s nothing to see water covering cars and people sitting on top of apartment complexes (waiting to be rescued).”

Fay is expected to cut west across Florida and continue through to the panhandle and into southern Alabama. Rainfall in some areas of south Georgia is forecast to be from 3 to 6 inches. Portions of Florida have received 12 to 25 inches of rain from Fay.

“We’re in a drought and the ground is hard,” Berry said. “And if you get that much rain, we’ll have flooding.”

Berry was meeting with Rincon Elementary Principal Dr. Paige Dickey about emergency plans and responses Thursday morning when the wind blew a power line on a fence. Rincon officers cordoned off the area until Georgia Power crews could get there to repair the line.

Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said there had been no reports of flooding in the county as of 1:30 Thursday afternoon. But he remembered water covering Highway 21 at Goshen Road 15 years ago, and others recalled flooding in other parts of Rincon.

“I’ve only seen water across (Highway) 21 twice,” Rahn said, noting that it came at Schweighoffer Creek and at the viaduct on the north end of the city.

He also said East 9th Street is where the biggest flooding problems have come in the past.

Berry said his officers have been on a 48-hour call since Wednesday afternoon, with each having two sets of uniforms packed, a sleeping bag, water and non-perishable food, just in case. All Rincon’s police cars are fueled and his officers are on one-hour recalls.

Fire Chief Rahn and public works director Tim Bowles also listed the number of generators and portable lighting systems they have to use in case they are needed.

“All my crews are going to stand by,” Bowles said.

Rahn said fire station No. 1 can be run on half-lighting and its communication base station completely run off generator power. The fire department has eight portable generators and each fire truck has a generator. Three of the engines have hard-mounted generators and another will be dedicated to station No. 2 for backup power.

Bowles also said the city’s well will continue to operate and drinking water will be safe.

“As long as that generator is running, the water will be safe,” he said.