Evacuations lifted for Georgia coast as Dorian moves away

All coastal counties closed schools; residents evacuated Monday

Photo by Ginny Adams Worthington taken on St. Simons at 1:30 p.m. Thursday

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Georgia residents who live east of Interstate 95 got the green light to return home Thursday morning when Gov. Brian Kemp lifted the evacuation order he put in place Monday. He also announced Tuesday morning that the Sidney Lanier Bridge was inspected and has reopened Thursday morning as Hurricane Dorian has moved on to threaten the Carolinas.

Dorian passed just over 100 miles east of the Southeast Georga coast on Wednesday evening as a Category 2 storm. Tropical storm and storm surge warnings and the hurricane watch that had been up along the Georgia coast were discontinued at 5 a.m. Thursday.

More than 540,000 people who live on the state's 100-mile coast, including those living east of Interstate 95 in Camden, Glynn, Chatham, Bryan, Liberty and McIntosh counties, were ordered out. That included the cities of Brunswick and St. Marys and all the barrier islands.

All Glynn County roads are open, including the F.J Torras Causeway and the Jekyll Island Causeway.

Dark Entry Creek Bridge, on Georgia Highway 40 in St. Marys between the Shadowlawn subdivision and Winn-Dixie, also reopened Thursday morning. 

The states of emergency for Glynn and Camden counties have also been canceled.

Assessment teams were being deployed to determine the damage in Glynn County and will repair any problems as rapidly as possible. Please be aware of your surroundings. Residents were urged not to touch fallen power lines, as they can be extremely dangerous.

Camden County emergency management said it has completed assessments, finding three houses with fallen trees. There were no reports of any injuries or deaths in the county. Residents are encouraged to use caution if they find trees or limbs on roads. Damage reports in Camden County may be called into the Dorian hotline at 866-868-4351.

Georgia Power has nearly 1,500 utility personnel who have responded to broken poles and downed lines. As of 8 a.m. Thursday, 15,000 of its customers were out statewide, many who live in Glynn, McIntosh and McIntosh counties.

Scroll down for county-by-county hurricane status

Dorian marks the third time since 2016 that all of coastal Georgia was evacuated for a hurricane.

Before the evacuations ahead of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017, coastal residents had not been ordered to flee a storm since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. That hurricane ended up missing the state before making landfall in North Carolina.

On Jekyll Island, News4Jax met Jerry and Carolyn Ezzell, who stayed during Hurricane Irma but evacuated ahead of Hurricane Dorian. 

"I really do hate to leave my house. We don't know what we'll find when we come back, but we're leaving anyway," Carolyn Ezzell said. "Hopefully it will be far enough out, we won't have any damage, we won't have any storm surge just like we did with Irma."

But Wesley Dickey said he planned to ride out the storm in his home, just like he did during Irma,

"I've been water all my life. I'm a retired commercial shrimp fisherman, so I know the water. So I'm happy right here," he said. "It's a lucky spot because it curves in on the coastline. It's further away from the Gulf Stream -- 70 miles from the Gulf Stream, which makes a difference."

He said he would keep an eye on his neighbors' homes while they're out of town.

Georgia's State Park System hosted those sheltering from the storm. Evacuees and their pets are welcome in Georgia's State Parks, including horses at parks with equestrian facilities.

All cottages and campsites will allow pets during this time. Campsites and cottages are available at regular rates, and "dry camping" is free during this emergency event. Parking fees and pet fees will be waived for evacuees.

Nine state parks and historic sites along the coast were closed, while 55 remain open, providing the potential to house 16,600 people. For the latest storm notifications, visit GaStateParks.org/alerts. Park locations can be found at the following link: GaStateParks.org/map.

After the storm safety tips

  • Watch for downed wires. Downed power lines may be hidden by debris or fallen trees. 
  • Never touch any downed wire or attempt to remove tree branches from power lines – it can kill. 
  • Don't step in standing water or saturated ground where downed lines may be present. The water could be electrified. 
  • Avoid chain link fences. They may be energized by a downed line out of sight and conduct electricity over great distances. 
  • Watch for Georgia Power crews working across the state. If driving, move over one lane for utility vehicles stopped on the side of the road -- it's the law in Georgia. Please don't approach work areas or stop to talk to workers. This only delays the tasks at hand and could also put you in a dangerous situation.

Camden County  

Updated 10 a.m. Thursday:

Schools in Camden County will reopen Friday. A curfew from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. that began Tuesday has ended.

Glynn County

Updated at 10:45 a.m. Thursday:

The evacuation and curfew for Brunswick, the Golden Isles and everyone else east of I-95 was lifted Thursday morning. The Sidney Lanier Bridge was inspected and reopened Thursday morning, as well. Jekyll Island has reopened.

Republic Services suspended trash pickup during the hurricane and will resume its normal schedule on Friday. Bagged, household trash can be dropped off free at one of two convenience centers:

  • Brunswick – 550 Young Lane, Brunswick 
  • St. Simons – Demere Road (behind the Farmer's Market between Frederica Road and Airport Road) 

Republic Services will not pick up yard debris in Glynn County unless you have a yard debris subscription. Yard debris can be dropped off at the same convenience centers for $27 per average truck load. 

For the most updated information, call the Glynn County customer service line at 912-554-7111. Use 911 only for emergencies. 

  • Glynn County, the city of Brunswick, Jekyll Island, the Glynn County School System, and the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water Sewer Commission are set to resume normal hours of operation on Friday
  • The College of Coastal Georgia has canceled classes, closed the dorms and will suspend all non-essential operations through Friday. Visit www.ccga.edu for updates. 
  • The Coastal Pines Golden Isles Campus will be closed through Monday.

We will continue to monitor conditions, and updates will be available at www.glynncounty.org and on the Glynn County EMA Facebook daily.      

Ware County

Updated 10:30 a.m. Thursday:

Ware County Schools facilities were closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with some used as staging points or shelter for those under mandatory evacuation orders. Ware County schools will reopen Friday.

Republic Services reports that all waste pickup routes are running as scheduled.

Ware County emergency management urged people to monitor its Facebook page for updates.

Brantley, Charlton counties

These are not considered coastal counties but were included in the governor's state of emergency due to the risk of inland flooding and other impacts.

Both Brantley and Charlton counties closed schools Tuesday and Wednesday but reopened Thursday.

All waste pickups in Charlton County are reported running as scheduled.


State of emergency

Last week, Kemp declared a state of emergency for coastal counties, including Brantley, Bryan, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce and Wayne. The state of emergency allowed state agencies to assist local governments with storm preparation, response and recovery.

The state law prohibiting price gouging is in effect.

Health departments

Due to the potential for severe weather from Hurricane Dorian, health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties were closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. 

The evacuation of residents on the Hurricane Registry in many of those counties -- and subsequent re-entry procedures after the storm has passed -- may precipitate extended health department closures. We will share that information as it becomes available.

Department of Labor offices

Several Georgia Department of Labor offices will remain closed until further notice except the Waycross center, with reopened Thursday.

About the Authors:

Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.

Digital election producer in 2022. He created WJXT.com in 1995 and managed The Local Station's website through 2021.