St. Simons Island residents board up homes, businesses ahead of Irma

Mandatory evacuation order in effect for Glynn County

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Storm surge could be a major issue with Hurricane Irma, and concern is growing in coastal Georgia.

A mandatory evacuation order is in effect for Glynn County. On St. Simons Island, certain areas looked like a ghost town Friday night. 

Many homes and businesses boarded up windows. One business left a message on the door, saying, "Nobody likes you Irma. Just go away!"

That sentiment is shared by a lot of people on the island, even as many plan to stay and ride out the storm.

"If it remains similar to what it is now, we’ll stay," said Richard Johnston, St. Simons Island resident.

Johnston told News4Jax he's waiting until Saturday to decide if he'll leave. He said the westward shift in Irma's track gave him confidence, especially after some of the earlier forecast models. 

"I was never as nervous as I was on Wednesday when I saw Irma forecast to be a Cat 3, right here," Johnston said. 

But Rachel Eunice and Jessica Baxter have already made up their minds. 

"We feel like it’s going to dissipate by the time it gets here. We feel like the options of being in traffic are a lot worse than sitting out the storm," Eunice said. 

They’re both staying home, stocking up on supplies and hoping Irma’s bark is worse than its bite.

Baxter said even the storm surge warnings don’t have her too concerned.

"I’m not that worried about high water or anything," Baxter said. "I just think that, at this point, no matter which way we go, it sounds bad."

Glynn County’s mandatory evacuation order went into effect at 8 a.m. Friday. Even with storm surge considered a major threat for the area, some residents said they'll take their chances.

Though there were still a lot of people out and about Friday in St. Simons, enjoying the time before the hurricane arrives, a lot of residents did decide to get out before the storm.

As people got ready to leave, preparing for the worst, they're hoping the massive storm takes aim elsewhere. 

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"I don’t want anything to happen to my house," said Linda Joesbury. "You know, human life is the most important thing, but I do love my beach house and I’m worried about it."

Linda and Mike Joesbury live part time in Thompson, Georgia, and part time at their home on St. Simons Island. The two said Hurricane Matthew spared them last year, but they’re worried Irma could bring a different outcome.

"We just heard this is going to be worse than that, but maybe not, maybe not," Mike Joesbury said. "We’re trying to prepare for it though."

Part of those preparations included boarding up their house, which is right across the street from the water, and leaving, which is exactly what Glynn County officials ordered all residents to do. 

Unlike others who are choosing to stay, the Joesburys said that's not a chance they're willing to take. 

"I hate to lose anything down here, but it's better to leave and have your life," Mike Joesbury said.

Many, including the Joesburys, said they’re trusting that Irma will track far enough to the west to spare their homes from any major damage.