MINUTES OF AN EMERGENCY MEETING OF THE GILCHRIST COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS HELD SEPTEMBER 2, 1998.
The Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners, in and for Gilchrist County, Florida, convened in an Emergency meeting on Wednesday, September 2, 1998, at 4:30 p.m., in the County Commissioner's Meeting Room, in the Gilchrist County Courthouse, with the following members present to-wit:
Fred Wilkerson, Vice-Chair
Sue B. Suggs
Others in attendance were: Joseph W. Gilliam, Clerk of Court, Ron McQueen, EMA/County Coordinator, Sam Ferguson, Finance Director, Sherree Pitzarell, Deputy Clerk, David Turner, Sheriff, Harvey Montgomery, Chief Deputy, and Don Thomas, School Superintendent.
Mr. McQueen explained that the reason he requested the emergency meeting is the discuss the possibility of declaring a state of emergency in preparedness for Hurricane Earl, which has taken a slight northeast track. According to Mr. McQueen, Dixie County has ordered evacuation of their coastal areas and has opened a shelter. Sustained winds from Hurricane Earl are 80 mph, with gusts up to 90 mph. There entire area, including Gilchrist County is under a flood and tornado watch.
Mr. Thomas, School Superintendent, stated that the new school facility in Bell may be used for an evacuation shelter if necessary.
Commissioner Suggs made a motion to declare a state of emergency. The motion failed for a lack of second.
Commissioner Bush made a motion to recess and reconvene at 9:00 p.m., in the courthouse annex building, in order to get a more up to date weather report prior to declaring a state of emergency. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Durden, and unanimously approved.
At 9:00 p.m., the Board reconvened in the courthouse annex building, with the following members present to-wit:
Fred Wilkerson, Vice-Chairman
Sue B. Suggs
Others in attendance were: Ron McQueen, EMA/County Coordinator, Bill Brideson, Assistant Emergency Management Director, Billy Rogers, Mayor, City of Trenton, Mike Edwards, Chief, City of Trenton Police Department, Don Thomas, School Superintendent, David Turner, Gilchrist County Sheriff, Sam Ferguson, Finance Director, and Rayanne Ferguson, county resident.
Those present were updated on the progress of Hurricane Earl since the Board recessed their meeting. Mr. Brideson showed the tracking maps and information that indicated that the storm had not increased in strength or size, however, the storm has changed its course slightly to a more easterly direction.
Mr. McQueen placed a conference call to Dixie County Emergency Management Operations Center and received an update on their current condition. Dixie County is experiencing moderate rain, winds of about 40 mph, high seas and coastal flooding. They have called for a voluntary evacuation of coastal and low lying areas, opening a shelter at Anderson Elementary School. Currently there are eight families taking shelter. They have already declared a state of emergency and all public schools and government offices will be closed on September 3rd. Dixie County has a conference call scheduled with the National Hurricane Center for 2200 hours and at that time, they will determine if a mandatory evacuation is needed. On behalf of the Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners, Mr. McQueen offered whatever assistance Gilchrist County may be able to provide.
Mr. McQueen placed a conference call to the National Weather Service in Jacksonville and was informed by Fred Johnson of the storms current conditions. It is anticipated that the hurricane will make landfall between midnight and 2:00 p.m. somewhere between Panama City and Apalachicola. Mr. Johnson stated that the storm has taken a more northeasterly direction and feels that Gilchrist County will experience the worst conditions between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., with heavy rain and winds 30 to 40 mph. This area can expect 3 to 5 inches of rain and will remain under a tornado alert throughout the day on the 3rd of September.
A copy of the Governor's Executive Order 98-218, declaring a state of emergency throughout Florida was presented by Mr. McQueen. Commissioner Suggs made a motion to declare a state of emergency by resolution. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Bush and unanimously approved. A copy of resolution 98-40A is on file in the Clerk's Office.
Mr. McQueen stated that the Bell Elementary School is the only approved shelter in Gilchrist County. It has a wind load factor of 150 mph and a back-up generator for power. Mr. Thomas, School Superintendent, stated that there would be no problem with using the cafeteria at Bell Elementary School. Because this facility has a movable wall, half of the cafeteria could be used to feed children if school is not canceled. He has not made a decision at this time as to whether to close schools or allow them to remain open.
Commissioner Durden stated that the county's Road Department is fully prepared and on standby.
Sheriff Turner stated that his department is also ready to respond.
Mr. McQueen reported that the EMS and fire departments are on alert and he will monitor the storm from his office throughout the night.
There being no further business to discuss, Commissioner Suggs made a motion to adjourn at 11:10 p.m. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Durden and unanimously approved.
FRED WILKERSON, VICE-CHAIRMAN
JOSEPH W. GILLIAM, CLERK