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Forecasters: Irma may have local impact by Tuesday


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, W.Va.  — Hurricane Irma may have in impact on this area by Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in Blacksburg.

“The current forecast is for a trajectory late Monday into Tuesday with widespread rain in this area,” said NWS Meteorologist Anita Silverman, adding that it’s fortunate it’s been dry so the ground is not already saturated.

“That will help prevent flooding,” she said.

The storm is, at this point, forecast to leave Florida, pass Savannah, Ga., and then turn inland in a northwest direction and into the Tennessee Valley.

By that time it will weaken, she said, but the area could still see some strong winds.

“But that’s quite a ways out,” Silverman said. “It’s still subject to change.”

Although this area may be spared any significant impact, that scenario is not true for Florida, especially along the eastern coastline.

That is why Ann Lambert, a Bluefield, Va., native who lives in Ormond Beach near Daytona, left her home Wednesday and is now back here.

“I live within walking distance of the beach,” she said. “It’s on a

peninsula separated (from the main land) by the intercoastal waterway. It’s just a spit of land.”

That means, she said, mandatory evacuation at times.

“We had not received a mandatory evacuation yet, but I decided to leave early,” she said. “For 42 years I have lived with hurricanes, and we often would have hurricane parties. But not this one. It’s scary and it’s bigger than (Hurricane) Andrew was, and I saw what Andrew did at Homestead (in southern Florida).”

Lambert said she is willing to ride out a storm if it’s a Category 1 or maybe 2.

“But when the winds gets up to 120 or 130 miles per hour, I leave,” she said. “And we have never seen one like this before.”

Lambert said even if the area she lives doesn’t get a direct hit, the storm is so big it’s likely all power will be lost.

“I could use a vacation anyway,” she said. “So I came back to the hills.”

Getting here, though, was not that easy.

“Interstate 95 was packed,” she said, and by the time she left on Wednesday supplies at local stores were mostly gone.

“I filled up with gasoline on Monday,” she said. “When I left Wednesday, big long lines of people were trying to get gas.”

“I usually evacuate inland,” she said, adding that she had checked in Orlando but all hotel rooms had been booked.

However, she decided even inland was not safe.

“I think it’s going to be a scary thing for people down there,” many of whom she said will try to ride it out. “I wanted to get out of Florida, period, and have a hurricane party here in Bluefield.”

Contact Charles Boothe at [email protected]

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