Mayor Tomlinson: ‘Pray, and spread calm’ as Irma turns for Columbus

Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson called on the Columbus faith community to “pray and spread calm” in the face of a potentially devastating tropical storm.

“As Irma hits our nation’s shore and heads toward Columbus, Georgia, we call on you – the leaders of Columbus’ tremendous faith community – for prayer and community resilience,” the mayor said in a news release.

The storm is expected to hit Columbus in the early morning Monday and continue throughout the day. We may begin seeing tropical-storm force winds as early as 3 or 4 a.m., according to predictions from the National Hurricane Center. The National Weather service predicted wind speeds of between 40-60 mph and 4-6 inches of rain.

The storm slammed into the Florida Keys Sunday and has left 500,000 people without power. Fire officials reported many downed power lines, flying debris and flooded roads.

Mayor Tomlinson called on the city’s faith leaders and their congregants to pray for the safety of those caught in the path of the storm, as well as for evacuees and others seeking refuge. Hundreds of evacuees have taken shelter in Columbus at the Civic Center, with many more lodging in hotel rooms or with other residents.

“Pray that communities not be torn apart and be able to rebuild. Pray for the Public Safety and Public Works professionals who will serve in midst of the storm and for the Volunteers that bring comfort and healing in this time of need. Pray for our leaders that we may bolster our city and lead us through this uncertain time. Our faith community has always been there for us and we need you now,” said Mayor Tomlinson.

Tomlinson urged people to heed the following safety tips, and to call the Red Cross at (706)-323-5614 if interested in volunteering.

· Stay off roads during heavy rains.

· Do not drive through standing water.

· Secure or move inside any outdoor furniture, planters, trash cans or other outdoor items that may become projectiles in high winds.

· Monitor storm drains and remove debris that clusters around the drain as the rains begin.

· If your basement is prone to flooding, monitor it regularly and take steps now to borrow, rent or acquire a pump.

· Prepare for prolonged power outages by having flashlights, candles (use with CAUTION!), and food that needs no heat preparation.

· Maintain batteries for a radio and charge your cell phone ahead of time.

· Purchase enough bottled water to last one day.

· Property insurance does not typically cover flood damage – Talk to your insurance provider about your policy and consider if you need additional coverage.

· Place valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container on the highest level of your home.

Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE