Columbus officials prepare for Hurricane Dorian’s impact here

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It doesn’t look like it will be a leisurely Labor Day weekend for the nearly 175 Georgia Power employees in the Columbus area.

With Hurricane Dorian approaching the U.S., Georgia Power has already activated its storm command center in Atlanta.

Now, it’s a waiting game.

Whether Columbus gets storm damage or not, local Georgia Power workers will almost assuredly be called into action.

“We don’t know whether it is going to hit Georgia or not,” said Georgia Power Company spokesperson Robert Watkins. “We have been asked to go help other utilities when it hits. But we are not going to go there until we are sure the hurricane has missed Georgia or we have all of our customers back on.”

Columbus officials are preparing for the possibility that evacuees could seek refuge here near the end of this Labor Day weekend.

There are more than 5,000 hotel and motel rooms in Columbus and Phenix City.

A fair number of those are booked this weekend because of a large national softball tournament at the South Commons. Convention and Visitors Bureau President Peter Bowen says there should be plenty of availability, though.

Columbus also has shelter space available, said Peter Bowden, president and CEO Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“We reached out yesterday to find out what the plan was for the Consolidated Government. And just this morning they have put a plan in place to include the Red Cross with the shelters that will open up once words comes out there is a need.”

The plan from the city calls for the Frank Chester Rec Center in South Columbus to open first. If needed, Shirley Winston Rec Center in east Columbus would open next.

If it is a large-scale evacuation, the Civic Center could be opened.

Adalaide Kirk of Red Cross of West Central Georgia says that they are working off three possibilities. One that storm tracks up Florida’s east coast, one that it comes up the center of Florida and into south Georgia and one that has it going across Florida into the Gulf of Mexico.

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