By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Residents of Atmore and the surrounding area continued Tuesday to prepare for the brunt of Hurricane Sally, which was expected to make landfall early Wednesday and swing northeastward across Alabama.
The storm, which has vacillated between a Category 2 and Category 1 hurricane as it has plodded through the Gulf of Mexico, was moving at a rate that had slowed by Tuesday morning to a snail’s pace of 2 miles per hour, although it packed winds of up to 85 mph.
Hurricane Sally had begun dumping torrential rains on Mississippi, the Florida Panhandle and coastal Alabama by mid-morning Tuesday, with more rain expected as the weather system came ashore. As much as a foot of rain was anticipated in some areas closest to the coast, with inland areas expected to receive at least half that much.
“We’re talking about (potentially) a historic rainfall event,” over the middle of the week, National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham told reporters.
Locally, residents and business owners filled sandbags to hold out the excess water that the storm is expected to bring. Lines formed at gas stations as motorists filled their tanks in the event an evacuation was called for.
City of Atmore officials opened two shelters for those likely to be adversely affected by the flooding forecasters had warned could be a part of the hurricane. Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks reported Tuesday morning that nobody showed up either temporary sanctuary.
The county’s public schools were closed Tuesday and will remain closed Wednesday, as was Escambia Academy. Officials of Atmore Christian School called off classes on Tuesday but at last report, planned to resume a regular schedule on Wednesday. Temple Christian Academy was also closed Tuesday, and officials there said they would take a “wait-and-see” attitude as far as when classes would resume.
While neighboring Mobile County reported Tuesday morning that more than 3,000 residents were without electricity, no such outages had occurred in Atmore, although there were occasional power surges.
Southern Pine Electric Cooperative customers were urged to call 1-866-867-5415 if an outage occurred.