Winn Dixie, Dallas County prepare for disaster

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Mention Hurricane Katrina and hairs stand up on the backs of people’s necks.

The catastrophic cyclone formed Aug. 23, 2005 and dissipated eight days later. The damage it left behind made it the costliest and one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. The country was not prepared for such devastation.

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Winn Dixie stores are being proactive. Tropical Storm Barry formed on the first day of the 2007 hurricane season and the ears of management perked up.

Winn Dixie Stores, Inc., based in Jacksonville, Fla., has announced it is currently equipping 60 of its 521 stores with diesel-powered generators as back-up power in case of a severe power outage.

“We’re looking at expanding this,” said WD Spokesperson Patrick McSweeney of St. John & Partners, Jacksonville. “This is the first year.”

Stores currently have small back-up generators.

“For a complete power outage, it takes a huge generator to power everything we’ve got,” said Larry Crane, Dallas Avenue WD store manager.

Neither of Selma’s WD stores, Dallas Avenue nor Highland Avenue, will receive the generator upgrade at this time, mainly because the area is not one as hard hit as the coastal areas.

Crane recalls his store only being closed for one day during Katrina.

The local Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is constantly preaching preparedness.

“We’ve (spoken to) anyone who will listen to us,” said Pam Cook, EMA director. “They need to have a plan.”

Cook said the average person doesn’t think about having a disaster plan.

“The public at large is not prepared and it’s scary,” she said.

For any kind of disaster, Cook said the things one should have in a preparedness kit are three days worth of water, medications, non-perishable foods, flashlights, batteries, hygiene products, some form of I.D., “and a little bit of cash.”

“If you’re prepared for one (disaster), you’re prepared for all,” Cook said.