Preparing for the Worst

Emergency management officials in Lauderdale County spent Wednesday afternoon on a conference call with the National Weather Service, preparing for what could be a major outbreak of severe weather.

The expectations of winds upwards of 70 miles per hour, large hail, and very strong tornadoes have officials on edge waiting to see what will happen.

"Seventy to 80 mile per hour winds, you're talking tropical storm or hurricane force," said David Sharpe, emergency management director. "People around here are well aware with what hurricane force winds will do."

And the damage that could be especially bad because of the problems still left behind by Hurricane Katrina. Weakened trees and structures that still need roof work could be especially in danger.

"We do have a lot of limbs hanging on trees, a lot of trees lodged or against other trees that haven't fallen," said Eddie Ivy of Meridian's homeland security. "A storm like this could cause them to fall, which could cause some major problems."

These are problems a community still in the recovery stages from the hurricane probably doesn't want to deal with, especially this early in the year. This is only the very beginning of the spring severe weather season.

"It's kind of starting off early, and we hope it's not going to go all year," Ivy said.

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