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Ivan will impact Black Belt

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Hurricane Ivan, dubbed “Ivan the Terrible,” was headed straight for the coast of the Alabama Mississippi border bringing with it winds of at least 140 mph and 36 hours of sustained, sometimes torrential rain.

“Marengo County is expected to receive hurricane-force winds,” Kevin McKinney, director of the Marengo County Emergency Management Agency said. “What that means is winds of about 75 miles per hour.”

McKinney said residents here can also expect up to 36 hours of rain, downed trees and power lines and extended power outages.

“We could see three to five days without power,” he said.

The EMA director said he doesn’t expect Demopolis or Marengo County to get the full brunt of the storm, but said residents should be prepared.

“As far as structural damage from the winds, I don’t think there will be any,” he said. “But people need to secure things that could be thrown around because of the winds, and the combination of strong winds and wet ground are prime conditions for trees to fall, and that could cause damage.”

The extended time without power could result in a loss of drinking water, so McKinney said residents should stock up on water, even if it’s just storing it in jugs or bottles in the house.

A good stock of non-perishable food and batteries is also a must.

For those in mobile homes, McKinney advised staying with a friend or family member, or possibly at a local hotel.

“The Carpet Inn, Winwood Inn and Days Inn are all saying they still have rooms,” he said. “The Holiday Inn and Riverside are booked up.”

AT 4 p.m. Central Time the National Hurricane Center was reporting a hurricane warning from Grand Isle, La., to Apalachicola, Fla., including the greater New Orleans area and Lake Pontchartrain.

“A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area, generally within the next 24 hours,” the center’s Web site stated. “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion throughout the entire warning area.”

At last report, the center of the hurricane was sitting in the Gulf, approximately 370 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Ivan was moving toward the north-northwest near 9 mph and was expected to continue that movement throughout the night.

The category four storm was packing maximum sustained winds of near 140 mph, with higher gusts.

“Ivan is expected to make landfall as a major hurricane, at least category three,” the National Hurricane Center stated. “Ivan is a large hurricane. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 105 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 260 miles.”