Tropical Storm Elsa moves into southern Georgia

Part of the roof of a barn in Brantley County came off on Wednesday. (WJXT)

Tropical Storm Elsa moved into southern Georgia early Wednesday evening after making landfall earlier in the day along Florida’s northern Gulf Coast.

As of 5 p.m., a tropical storm warning was in effect for the mouth of St. Marys River, Georgia, to Little River Inlet, South Carolina, as Elsa moved north at 14 mph with 45 mph winds.

In Brantley County, part of the roof to a barn near Hickox and Nahunta was ripped off. Fortunately, David White’s horse, named Pepper, was not hurt.

Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday issued a state of emergency affecting 92 counties in middle, south and southeast Georgia in preparation for the storm.

In Glynn County, which includes Brunswick and St. Simons Island, officials urged people to prepare and stay off the roads. School summer programs at Glynn County Public Schools, Glynn County public pools, Jekyll Island outdoor activities and some courts announced plans to close Wednesday. The city of Brunswick closed offices at 3 p.m. Wednesday, but Glynn County had no plans to close offices.

If winds are high enough, the Georgia Department of Transportation could close bridges to St. Simons Island and a high-rise bridge going south out of Brunswick. Interstate 95 is unlikely to be affected, though.

The storm also temporarily halted demolition work Wednesday on the remainder of an overturned cargo ship that’s partially submerged off the coast of Georgia. The South Korean freighter Golden Ray capsized in September 2019 off St. Simons Island, about 70 miles south of Savannah. Crews have dismantled and removed more than half the ship since November. More than 250 workers are assigned to the salvage operation, and most of them were sheltering indoors Wednesday, said Coat Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Himes, a spokesperson for the multiagency command overseeing the demolition. The towering crane being used to cut the ship into giant chunks was being kept in place straddling the wreck, stabilized by mooring lines attached to anchors and pilings. The crane was also anchored to the shipwreck itself, which weighs about 13,200 tons, Himes said.

“As far as the wreck shifting, that’s highly unlikely,” Himes said.

He said crews would be watching to see if Elsa’s winds scatter any debris from the ship into the surrounding water. The vessel’s remains are open at both ends, like a giant tube on its side, and its cargo decks still contain hundreds of bashed and mangled cars.

All Ware County School District offices and campuses were closed Wednesday due to Elsa. All athletic events and practices scheduled for Wednesday were also been canceled.

The Camden County Health Department has suspended operations for Wednesday and health departments, along with district offices, in several counties, including Glynn, suspended operations at 3 p.m. Wednesday. The Coastal Health District said it does not anticipate any delayed openings Thursday.

The Camden County Board of Commissioners offices were closed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday. County offices will resume normal business hours at 8 a.m. Thursday, and the Tax Commissioner Office will resume normal business hours at 9 a.m.

Kemp’s office said state officials are actively monitoring Elsa, with some coastal counties opening emergency operations centers. Georgia Power Co. said it’s ready to respond to any power outages.