Jekyll Island finishing up debris removal

Jekyll Island opened Monday; St. Simons Island reopened Tuesday

Photo by Jerry McGovern
Photo by Jerry McGovern

Jekyll Island residents continue to settle back into their homes and visitors are returning to explore the island's beaches after Hurricane Matthew.

As of early Thursday evening, storm recovery was nearly complete on the island, officials said.

Jekyll Island has been working with the Georgia Department of Transportation to pick up residential debris.

Officials anticipate the majority of debris will be removed by this weekend, but will assess debris removal needs early next week and issue a schedule if needed. 

Georgia DOT confirmed Thursday that the repaving of the Jekyll Island Downing Musgrove causeway has been delayed until November. 

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center, in partnership with Satilla Riverkeeper and Rivers Alive, will be hosting a Jekyll Island beach cleanup day on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 8-10 a.m. For more information and to volunteer, click here.


There are some additional areas of the island crews are working to clean, repair and/or get back online. The list below is not a complete list. Please contact Island businesses directly for more information.

  • Jekyll Island Golf Club: Indian Mound and Great Dunes courses will open Saturday. Oleander and Pine Lakes courses are closed until further notice. The driving range, Golf Academy, Pro Shop and practice greens are all open.
  • Georgia Sea Turtle Center: The exhibit gallery and gift shop are open to the public for free, during regular operating hours. The patient pavilion and viewing window are closed because our patients are being transported back to the Center. Regular admission fees will resume Tuesday.
  • Jekyll Island Campground will open Friday.
  • Bike paths: All paths are open, with the exception of the path behind Flash Foods. Please use caution while navigating any path, you may encounter debris adjacent to the paths.
  • Beach Accesses/Crossovers: Nearly half of the beach crossovers on the Island are damaged or blocked, and marked accordingly with caution tape. Some access points to Driftwood Beach have been cleared, but some remain closed. Do not attempt to use access points and crossovers that are closed and marked with caution tape.
  • Jekyll Island Tennis Center: Closed until further notice

Please visit jekyllisland.com/matthew for updates on closures.

St. Simons Island residents return home

Residents got their first look at the damage on St. Simons Island on Tuesday after the island was reopened at noon for residents and business employees with proof of entry.

The area is known for its beaches and beautiful trees, many which are now gone. But the first look of the island showed that most of the damage can be fixed, and no injuries were reported.

One home on Ocean Road had two pine trees fall on it and a third toppled in the front yard.

Most people on the quiet island said things could have been so much worse, and they’re thankful they’ll be able to quickly get back to normal.

“I don't even know what time it is now. I don't even know what day it is, but it's OK,” said Melissa Wellford, owner of Sandcastle Cafe. “We have our business. We have our house. We have our condo. I'm so grateful, totally grateful.”

Wellford, 28, said she was emotional driving over the FJ Torras Causeway on Tuesday morning, where cars had lined up to return to St. Simons Island. It was the first time in five days she was able to see her business and home, which escaped without damage.

“I just looked up at the sky and said, 'Thank you. Thank you,'” Wellford said. “We are truly blessed. I cannot tell you enough. I've lived here my whole life.”

Wellford's cafe is just blocks from the water. She said the last five days have been long, tough and frustrating.

“I think it's been a great learning experience for everyone,” Wellford said. “We now know what we need to do to prepare for the next one, f there is a next one. I hope not anytime soon.”

Wellford said she got word last Thursday that she had to evacuate and her restaurant was full of freshly cooked biscuits, gravy, bacon and eggs that she just couldn't throw away. So she delivered it all to the fire station. She said the first responders were the true heroes during the storm.

Red Cross opens shelter

The Red Cross has opened a shelter at Selden Park for those who have been displaced or need assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. 

The shelter located at 100 Genoa Martin Drove, located off U.S. 241 in Brunswick, is providing shelter, food and showers for those needing assistance.

This shelter will be open 24 hours a day, as long as there is a need.

If you or someone you know is seeking assistance, please report directly to Selden Park. 

Trash pickup schedule for Glynn County

The following trash pickup schedule is in place for Glynn County: 

  • Monday's pickup from this week will occur on Thursday, Oct. 13
  • Tuesday's pickup from this week will be Friday, Oct. 14
  • Wednesday's pickup will be Saturday, Oct. 15
  • Thursday's pickup will be Monday, October 17
  • Friday's pickup will occur on Tuesday, October 18

This pattern will continue until trash service is caught up. For questions on the schedule, call 912-554-7111.

Camden County damage survey

The historic downtown area of St. Marys was underwater during the storm as the storm surge pushed water from the St. Marys River about two and a half blocks into downtown, flooding many businesses and homes.

Chief Tim Hatch with the St. Marys Police Department said the worst damage, though, came from the high winds, which knocked down trees across the city, leading to widespread power outages.

"The problem that we face here is the utility pole at the far corner of this intersection snapped and all of the wires came down and, obviously, it has a couple of trees, you can see, up and down the line here, one there and one back behind my vehicle," Hatch said. "These trees also fell across the lines."

Kenneth Hase owns a home in St. Marys' Lands End neighborhood, right on the water. He said his home and the others around it were mostly spared from what could have been devastation.

"A little damage, but not a whole lot. Little dings on the roof and some broken things on the dock but nothing major. Very good, very lucky," Hase said. "I was expecting some trees to be down, and some major roof damage, and probably not to have a roof left at all."

The National Guard is playing a major role in the recovery in Camden County.

Hatch said the Guard's help, along with that of organizations from across the state, has been invaluable.

The 30 officers of the St. Marys Police Department have been overwhelmed by the help they’ve received.

"The officers, I couldn’t be prouder of them," Hatch said. "They’ve all responded well and answered the call, for sure."

Camden County tax assessors and members of the U.S. National Guard will be traveling Camden County unincorporated areas to assess property damage due to Hurricane Matthew.

The members of the Camden County tax assessor's office and the National Guard will have proper identification. Please do not be alarmed, county officials urged.

The county thanked residents for their patience and understanding during this process.

Anyone with questions can call 912-729-5602.

As of Thursday, power had been restored throughout most of the county, officials said. They were working to get Cumberland Island power restored as soon as possible.

If you have flood insurance through FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and your property suffered flood damage, contact your local insurance agency or company to file a flood insurance claim.

Find your insurance company's toll-free number here.

Anyone with additional questions about filing a claim or their NFIP policy can call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 and press option “2.”

Camden County’s Planning and Development office can also be of assistance during this time, especially if any repairs or alterations are needed to your structure, as a permit might be required. The office can also verify if your property is in a flood zone and if you need other consideration. All work is required to be completed by a licensed contractor. Active licenses can be verified on the Secretary of State website at http://verify.sos.ga.gov/Verification, or you can call the County Planning Office for verifications.

The cities of Kingsland, St. Marys and Woodbine have water and sewer services restored. Debris cleanup is underway and all public works departments are removing debris from streets and right of ways.

Residents in the unincorporated area of Camden County are encouraged to bring their yard debris to either the C&D or Old Still Road Landfill at no charge. They are open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. If a resident is unable to do this, they may put yard debris that was a result of Hurricane Matthew in the right of way no later than Sunday, Oct. 16 for pickup by the road department.

The road department will first be picking up debris from the main roads, and after that is cleared, will begin working in the residential areas.

If your trash is not picked up on the regular scheduled day, please leave it out and it will be picked up by Friday.