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Floods a reminder to be prepared
Families should have emergency kits ready; businesses need flu plan
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Lake Lanier level approaches 1,068 feet

Lake Lanier’s rising water level continued to inch closer to full pool on Wednesday as runoff from several days of weekend rain continued to pour into the reservoir.

The lake was at 1.067.92 feet above sea level as of Wednesday evening, about three feet below full pool of 1,071 feet. The lake hasn’t reached that mark since September 2005.

Lanier began the year around 1,052 feet above sea level, some 19 feet below full pool. A year earlier, it reached its all-time low of 1,050.79 feet on Dec. 26, 2007.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials are expecting the lake to peak at 1,068.5 feet over the weekend.

And more rain may be on the way. After a few sunny clear days, the rains may return. National Weather Service forecasters call for an increasing likelihood of thunderstorms tonight and into Friday, with the chances increasing to 50 percent Saturday and Sunday.

From staff reports

If asked last year about the possibility of a flooding disaster in their area, North Georgia residents suffering through a drought would have passed it off as highly unlikely.

But this week’s heavy rain and flooding have shown that it can’t hurt to be prepared for any disaster or emergency situation, Hall County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator William Wright said.

Georgia legislators Wednesday addressed Congress and urged President Barack Obama to declare portions of Georgia devastated by flooding as federal disaster areas.

September is National Preparedness Month, and Wright said now is an important time for people to be prepared by making emergency kits.

Wright said floods differ from other natural disasters when it comes to seeking shelter, but the same supplies are needed.

“As a general rule with flooding, you have to evacuate,” he said. “In the case of an ice storm or a winter storm coming through, you would not evacuate but you would actually shelter in place.”

Wright said there are a few key components every household needs to be prepared.

“I can’t stress enough the importance for every citizen to have a weather radio,” Wright said.

Water for drinking and sanitation also should be set aside for emergencies.

“You need enough water to sustain you for 72 hours per person,” Wright said.

Other items such as nonperishable food, a whistle and a flashlight are part of an emergency preparedness kit.

Wright said a pandemic flu outbreak is another possible emergency that businesses in particular need to be prepared for this winter.

“Every business should have a continuity of operations plan and how they would operate during an emergency situation,” Wright said.

With the possibility of many people calling out of work sick due to the H1N1 flu and traditional flu virus this winter, Wright said businesses need to have a plan to be able to continue operations with a smaller work force.

“Those type things have to be answered,” Wright said.

Cross training staff members can help businesses avoid shutting down if employees necessary to daily operations call out sick.

“You identify your key staff people and then you identify the things that are required of your business,” Wright said.