Georgia governor orders mandatory coastal evacuations

Coastal Georgia counties close schools; evacuations begin Monday

By Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor, Roxy Tyler - Web producer, Francine Frazier - Senior web producer
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Officials in Georgia are preparing to feel impacts from the storm later this week. Hurricane Dorian is a powerful Category 5 storm that has wobbled back and forth, so the state is not taking any chances.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has ordered a mandatory evacuation of the state's Atlantic coast starting at noon Monday.

Kemp tweeted late Sunday that his executive order covers all those located east of the Interstate 95 corridor in Camden, Glynn, Chatham, Bryan, Liberty and McIntosh counties due to Hurricane Dorian. Contraflow on I-16 will begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday, with all lanes westbound, to maximize traffic flowing away from the coast.

Dorian marks the third time since 2016 that hurricane evacuations have been ordered for all of coastal Georgia. Roughly 540,000 people live on the state's 100-mile coast.

WSAV reported that Kemp and other state officials will hold news conferences in Savannah at 10:30 a.m. and Brunswick at 1:45 p.m. Monday

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.

Last week, Kemp has 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 will help state agencies to assist with storm preparation, response and recovery.

The state law prohibiting price gouging is also now in effect.

Camden County  

Updated 10:39 p.m. Sunday:

Sunday evening, Gov. Brian Kemp and the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) issued a mandatory evacuation order for all six coastal counties in Georgia effective at noon on Monday.  This mandatory evacuation order will impact all citizens residing east of Interstate 95, which is Zone A of Camden County. 

Residents should be aware that there are no approved shelters in Camden County due to the potential for flooding. All residents should use caution due to heavy congestion on our roadways as a result of other evacuations occurring in neighboring states.

When choosing an evacuation route, consider these points:

  • Keep a road map in your car. GPS units only work when you have a specific destination to which you are traveling. They may not work as well when you have no set destination. You may also want to conserve cell phone battery power.
  • Traveling north or south out of the county may lead to less traveled secondary roads.
  • Secondary roads that may be lesser known, may also be less traveled.
  • Listen to radio information about possible road closures due to congestion or flooding.

Schools in Camden County will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday, officials said. At this time, school officials said they plan to resume a regular school schedule Thursday if the weather permits.

Please continue to monitor the progress of the hurricane through the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center. Regular updates will also be posted to the Camden County EMA social media pages and on the county website at www.camdencountyga.gov. Please sign up for CodeRED to receive emergency notifications or text "CamdenCodeRED" to 99411 to enroll.

Glynn County

Updated at 9:18 p.m. Sunday:

The Glynn County Board of Commissioners has placed the County under a State of Emergency.  This declaration will give the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners decision-making authority during the State of Emergency.

At this time, no official evacuation has been announced for Glynn County. Those registered with the Department of Health for Medical Functional Needs will start evacuations at 8 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 2. If conditions remain the same, the County anticipates that there will be an evacuation of the barrier islands to include St. Simons island, Jekyll Island, Sea Island, and Little St. Simons Island and the low lying areas of the mainland. 

Glynn County is not accepting evacuees and will not open a shelter during the storm. If evacuees need a shelter location, contact the Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767.

If the predictions hold true, the F.J. Torras Causeway could become flooded and impassible. There are no planned closures of the F.J. Torras Causeway at this time. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) typically closes the Sidney Lanier Bridge as winds approach tropical force speeds. With tropical storm force winds, the potential for power outages becomes higher and water and sewer outages follow due to a lack of electricity. If you feel unsafe in the area and are able to leave, use your best judgement and follow your hurricane plan.

For non-emergency calls, please use 912-554-3645 to free up 911 lines for emergency calls. If you are not already registered for the CodeRED system to receive emergency alerts you can sign up at this address: https://glynncounty.org/671/CodeRED

There are several closures at this time. The Glynn County School System has canceled all classes from Tuesday through Thursday. The College of Coastal Georgia has canceled classes, closed the dorms, and will suspend all non-essential operations for Tuesday. Visit www.ccga.edu for updates. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) has closed for staff until Thursday Sept. 5, and will resume classes on Friday. The Glynn County Juvenile Court has canceled all hearings for the week of Sept. 2 and plans to resume normal business on Monday, Sept. 9. The Brunswick Municipal Court System will not have hearings on Wednesday

We will continue to monitor conditions and updates will be available at www.glynncounty.org.

Ware County

Updated 9:05 p.m. Sunday:

School officials are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to collaborate with EMA and public safety officials to make informed decisions. An official statement regarding the status of schools will be made early Monday.  Please refer to those communication channels for the most up-to-date and accurate information.

Please follow our Facebook page or visit our website for the most up-to-date information.

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

Brantley, Charlton counties

Updated 6:29 p.m. Sunday:

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. Officials with Charlton County have announced schools will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday due to the hurricane. Brantley County has not announced specific plans for the storm but is posting regular updates to its Faceboook page.

Help available for disabled Georgians

As Hurricane Dorian churns in the Atlantic, Georgians who live along the coast are being asked to sign up for the state's hurricane registry if they believe they'll need help.

The Health Department oversees the registry, which lists people who might need help relocating because of special medical needs or disabilities. The service helps those with physical, mental and intellectual disabilities, as well as those with unstable, terminal or contagious conditions.

But time is of the essence. In order to take advantage of these resources, people must sign up in advance. To register for the list, download a registration form on the Health Department's website or Sign up over the phone by calling 1-833-243-7344.

Copyright 2019 by WJXT News4Jax. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.