Alabama EMA, local citizens remain on standby to help with Hurricane Irma evacuees and relief efforts

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency held a coordinating call with all key state agencies regarding Hurricane Irma.

Alabama EMA Director Brian Hastings and several other relief agencies are closely monitoring the path of Irma. All agencies are on standby to support Florida if a request is made through a mutual aid system.

Meanwhile, Mayor Sandy Stimpson of Mobile warned his community that Irma will affect them regardless of the storm's path.

"We will feel the impact of Irma no matter where it goes. If you think of those evacuating from Florida, where will they go? They will go westward because if they go north, they are probably staying in the projected path of the storm. So, Mobile will have refugees coming into our area and seeking assistance. That's why it's important that all of us are in collaboration with each other so we can handle that," said Stimpson.

Water bottles are nowhere to be found on grocery store shelves in Spanish Fort, Ala., located on the other side of the bay.

"I went for water this morning, and Sam's Club was out. They said they will get 19 pallets in the morning, but to be there at 7 a.m. if you want it because it will probably be gone within the hour," said Janet Brentzel.

"Probably the easiest way to describe it would be total panic. We are leaving, actually, maybe even tonight, to try and avoid traffic. It's already starting to get bad," said Ashlee Walworth.

Walworth is originally from Alabama. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is evacuating to her parent's house in Fort Payne to wait out the storm.

"Tornadoes were always very real. So, for a hurricane to be this big and this real and this scary, I'm just not messing with it," said Walworth.

One local Tennessee Valley church is supporting those who may be in the path of Hurricane Irma.

"My wife and I, we have family in Florida, as we lived there for several years. We called them and said, 'Hey, if you need to move up, please come to our house,'" Nick Martinez, who is the Pastor of Weatherly Assembly of God.

Martinez said others started talking in the church and realized they also had family and friends in the possible path of Hurricane Irma.

When other members found out, they decided to open their homes to anyone planning to head north.

"It's always a great relief, and also just in the back of your mind 'I have a place to go if things are getting so rough that we cannot stay here,'" said Martinez.

Martinez said he's lived through several hurricanes. He encourages others in the community to open their doors and hearts to those in need.