If you have dead tree limbs you’ve been thinking about cutting now is a good time to do it because Southeast Arkansas may experience some high winds and heavy rainfall from Hurricane Issac and the drought we’ve experienced has weakened trees’ root systems. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration track, as of 4 p.m. Monday, brings the eye along the Bradley and Drew County line with Monticello on the east side. The east side gets more rain, thunderstorms and potential tornadoes.

One of the biggest threats is the weakened root systems and with trees falling left and right some areas could see power outages.

Asked if that scenario was likely, a NOAA official said it is possible.

“I think it is a good possibility,” John Robinson, of the National Weather Service, said in an e-mail Monday afternoon. “We had speculated on an increase in the number of falling trees due to the drought. Seems that was right, as I saw a tree expert say the same thing the other day — the drought has weakened the trees and they are more likely to fall. I mentioned this in my morning outlook message, which goes to a number of people at Entergy.”

Meanwhile Southeast Arkansas is preparing for a possible influx of evacuees as it did in 2005 when hundreds sought refuge in Southeast Arkansas, many in Monticello.

At an emergency preparedness meeting in Monticello late Monday afternoon, area ministers said they are making preparations for evacuees.

“What we want to do is get a plan for what we can do as churches to take care of these people if they do come,” said Zan Pierce, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church. “If they don’t come it doesn’t matter, that’s immaterial, but if they do come we’re not only going to have the problem with thunderstorms and power outages, we’re also going to have an influx of people.”

Kyle Bryan, pastor of Enon Baptist Church in Monticello, said he expects families from south Louisiana to seek refuge in Monticello.

“We’re in contact with a number of people in south Louisiana that were here before and they’re coming here because of the way they were treated; quite frankly they were treated well,” Bryan said. “I fully expect to have them here by noon tomorrow (Tuesday).”

Bryan also pointed out that Shady Grove Baptist Church in southern Drew County is a designated Red Cross Shelter. “They are prepared to house and feed or do whatever is needed,” he said.

Dave Patterson, the Southeast Arkansas area commander of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, said his organization is on standby with about 15 recovery/chainsaw units and about a dozen feed units available if needed.

The National Hurricane Center reminds everyone that they shouldn’t focus on the storm’s exact track because of uncertainties in the forecast and the storm’s large area of tropical storm force winds.

An image link to ongoing information and updates about Issac is at the top of the right column.