BONIFAY - As Hurricane Michael opens wide on the Gulf Coast, officials are reminding residents to use precaution and not take the storm lightly.

"People should take it seriously," said Adrienne Owen, acting director and program assistant at Holmes County Emergency Management Office.

Holmes County county officials met Monday late afternoon to discuss plans and preparations, following a weather briefing from the National Weather Service.

As a result of the meeting, the EOC activated to Level 1 on Tuesday after Holmes County Board of County Commissioners issued a state of emergency.

"I urge citizens to take this storm seriously," said Holmes County Sheriff John Tate. "I believe this is one of the worst storms we have seen in a while. We encourage people to seek shelter early and not to wait to try and leave in the middle of the storm. Should anyone need assistance with getting out, contact Holmes County Sheriff's Office or EOC."

Although there were no evacuation orders for Holmes County, residents in mobile homes or unsafe structures were urged to make other arrangements. Also, officials said local residents, if an evacuation was to be ordered, should seek out alternative evacuation routes if roads are obstructed.

The county opened a pet-friendly general population and special needs shelter Tuesday morning at Poplar Springs School, 3726 Atomic Drive, in Graceville. A general population only shelter was opened at New Hope Volunteer Fire Department, 1969 Highway 2, in Westville.

If you go to a shelter, you will need to bring the following with you: medical records, food, medicines, and any other essentials needed for your pet. No reptiles allowed.

County Commissioner Clint Erickson is hunkering down with his family for the storm. By Tuesday morning, he had already fueled up several gallons for his generator, stocked up on water and cleaned debris around his home.

He encouraged Holmes County residents to be as precautious as the storm headed toward the region Wednesday, and to be patient in its aftermath.

"After the storm comes through, lets be patient with the power companies," he said. If there's any resident that needs help, call our emergency management office."

Residents in need of transportation to getting to one of the local emergency shelters, may contact Holmes County Sheriff's Office or Emergency Management by calling the Holmes County Communications Centers at 850-547-3681, Option 1. Officials urge those in need of transportation to make arrangements with the offices as soon as possible.

Also, county officials direct non-emergency calls, such as a downed tree, to the Sheriff's Office at 850-547-3681 or the EOC at 850-547-1112.

To stay updated on the latest advisories from the Holmes County Emergency Management Office, sign up for e-alerts at