Director of Emergency Management talks about preparedness

Russell Beaty
Deborah Wheeler/The Sun
Published: Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 08:12 AM.

Walton County's Director of Emergency Management addressed the topic of preparedness during hurricane season, as well as flood damage and options available at the Coastal Branch Library on Tuesday.

Russell Beaty said when most people think of hurricanes, they say they won't evacuate unless wind speed is predicted to be a Category 3. What they don't realize, said Beaty, is that the worst storm surge flooding comes with a Category 1 or 2.

"Super Storm Sandy was a cat 1 in wind speed, but she pushed in a huge storm surge causing massive flooding. A slower moving system pushes more water, not the faster ones," he said.

Beaty said we will hear forecasters talk of this factor more in the future, which will be an important factor for those living in or visiting South Walton, which is basically an island.

Evacuation orders will also be based more in the future with an eye toward the likelihood of storm surge.

Evacuation orders are issued early in Walton County because this county has the second-slowest evacuation time in the state, only behind the Keys, because the only outlet north is U.S. Highway 331, which is currently only two lanes.

Beaty noted that when issuing evacuation orders, the first notice is for voluntary evacuations, and goes out to non-residents, residents who might have difficulty leaving on short notice, those in mobile homes, and low-lying areas. However, most of South Walton is low lying.



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