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New storm puts Alabama on watch

MONTGOMERY – Alabama officials began discussing emergency preparations Wednesday as Tropical Storm Gustav made its way toward the Gulf of Mexico, where forecasters warned it could grow into a Category 3 hurricane.

“State agencies are monitoring Gustav and will be ready to take action, but I encourage residents to use this time to review and update their personal emergency plans,” Gov. Bob Riley said in a statement. “Make sure you have an emergency kit, a family communications plan, a plan to evacuate if that becomes necessary, a plan to take care of your pets. Just a few minutes of preparation now can make a big difference later.”

Leaders of various state agencies, including the Alabama Department of Public Safety and state department of transportation, met with the governor to make preparations.

Alabama Emergency Management Director Brock Long said his office has been in contact with FEMA and the National Hurricane Center throughout the day and urged residents to heed potential warnings from local officials.

Forecasters warned that Gustav could hit somewhere along a swath of the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to Texas. However, scientists cautioned that the storm’s track and intensity were difficult to predict several days in advance.

In developments on another storm, survey crews from the National Weather Service Office in Birmingham confirmed eight tornadoes touched down Monday as a result of the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay. There were no reports of injuries.

Twisters were blamed for causing property damages in Blount, Calhoun, Pike, St. Clair and Cleburne counties.

Ground surveys determined several structures, including homes and businesses, in the affected counties suffered minor to moderate damage.

In addition, forecasters report impressive rainfall totals across the state. The figures ranged from 9 inches in Calera, 8 inches in Troy and 6 inches in Mobile.

– The Associated Press