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Alabama Prepares For Hurricane Irma After It Hits Florida


Hurricane Irma's focus is on the western coast of Florida, but it won't finish there. Alabama is expected to be one of the next states to have to deal with Irma in the next day or so. Joining us now by phone is Alabama's governor, Kay Ivey. We're speaking to her. She's just left the state emergency operations center in Clanton, Ala. She's headed back to Montgomery. Governor Ivey, thank you so much for speaking with us.

KAY IVEY: Glad to. Glad to.

MARTIN: So what are you hearing and watching for as the hurricane seems to be headed your way?

IVEY: Well, the word we're getting now is it's very likely a large number of our counties will be hit with a tropical storm - the eastern counties in Alabama, halfway through the state. So we are gearing up. High winds and some rain. And the winds will be damaging to trees and power lines. And there can be power outages, et cetera.

MARTIN: What are some of the measures that you have in place?

IVEY: We've activated the National Guard to stand by and be in prepositioned places so that they can deliver rescue service and any other service that's needed. We've upgraded the emergency management center to a level one as of 7 o'clock this morning. And we are notifying everybody in the state that they've got to take notice and be sure that they and their families are prepared for whatever the storm brings. It's unpredictable, this storm is, and it could change directions even as we speak. But right now, we're hunkering down for tropical storms in a good part of our state.

MARTIN: So you think that Hurricane Irma will likely be a tropical storm by the time that Alabama starts to feel its effects, but but what are you most concerned about now?

IVEY: The wind and 3 to 4 inches of rain. And also, we have the unusual situation where so many people are leaving Florida, evacuating out of Florida, they're coming to Alabama and/or through Alabama. So there are a lot of traffic on the roads.

MARTIN: Do you have enough gasoline and things of that sort to accommodate all these people coming through?

IVEY: Well, so far, so good. But that's another concern. But we'll just hope for the best at this moment.

MARTIN: What's the weather there now?

IVEY: Oh, it's a wonderful fall-summer day. I mean, it feels good.

MARTIN: I know, isn't that strange?

IVEY: You would never think we're having a storm.

MARTIN: Yeah. I mean, isn't that strange? It's so - it's a gorgeous day now, and then yet, you've got to tell people to get ready. What preparations are you urging people to make?

IVEY: To get enough personal supplies to last for two or three days, their medicines, their personal belongings, stocked up on food and that sort of thing and be prepared to be without power for two or three days. We expect Monday afternoon, Monday night and Tuesday to be the heavy times of impact.

MARTIN: I understand that you've already spoken with President Trump.

IVEY: President Trump called me early this morning to let us know, to let me know and all of Alabama that he's got us on his team's watch list. And they are looking out for Alabama. And he wanted to be sure that Alabamians knew how much he appreciates Alabama and how proud he is of folks in Alabama and what we do and the way we do it. And he said he'd be working with FEMA and his team up there and he'd be sure to help Alabama all he could.

MARTIN: It's our understanding that Alabama and Georgia and I think possibly South Carolina had already sent some of your emergency folks to Florida to help out with the situation there. Is that true? And what do you do now?

IVEY: I authorized National Guard to respond to Florida. We signed an MOU with Florida. And we've sent some helicopters. We've sent some MP units. We've still got an ample National Guard not only deployed around the world but also here in Alabama to take care of the needs here in Alabama as well.

MARTIN: That's Governor Kay Ivey. She's joining us by phone. She's en route to Montgomery. She just left the state emergency operations center in Clanton, Ala., where she's been all day. Governor, thank you so much for speaking with us. Good luck to you and to all of your state.

IVEY: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.