SE Georgia counties working diligently on Irma recovery

Hurricane causes power outages, downed trees

By News4Jax.com Staff , JENNIFER KAY and DOUG FERGUSON, Associated Press
Headline Goes Here AP photo by Stephen B. Morton

Joe Murphy wipes the sweat off his face while standing in knee deep water from Tropical Storm Irma outside his Tybee Island house.

Officials in Southeast Georgia counties have begun coordinating relief efforts Tuesday following the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma.  

Twelve deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma, along with two in Georgia and one in South Carolina. At least 35 people were killed in the Caribbean.

During its march up Florida's west coast, Irma swamped homes, uprooted trees, flooded streets, snapped miles of power lines and toppled construction cranes.

In a parting shot, it triggered severe flooding around Jacksonville in the state's northeastern corner. It also spread misery into Georgia and South Carolina as it moved inland with winds at 50 mph, causing flooding and power outages.

A tornado spun off by Irma was reported on the Georgia coast, and firefighters inland had to rescue several people after trees fell on their homes. According to Glynn County officials, at least one tornado was reported as a result of Hurricane Irma. 

A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, and school was canceled in communities around the state. More than 100,000 customers were without power in Georgia and over 80,000 in South Carolina.

U.S. Rep Buddy Carter joined Georgia's two U.S. Senators, Jonny Isakson and David Perdue, in support of Gov. Nathan Deal's request expedited approval of individual and public federal assistance.

Camden County

Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor has announced that a curfew will be in effect until further notice. The curfew is in effect from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. daily.

Evacuation orders have not been lifted for Camden County. If you are in a safe place outside of the county, you are strongly encouraged to remain where you are. There is no water or sewer service in the city of Kingsland. The St. Marys water and sewer systems are at maximum capacity and may not be able to handle additional strain.

Wind and extraordinary rainfall in most neighborhoods caused wide spread power outages and flooding in all of Camden County. City and county officials are currently assessing the needs and number of residents with severe and immediate temporary housing needs. Local solutions are limited because of the same power, water and sewer outages. Local churches are able and willing to establish temporary (24-48 hours) shelters using limited food on hand and portable toilets.

These shelters are:

  • Crooked River Baptist Church, 925 Kings Bay Road, St. Marys
  • Three Rivers Church 101 Miller St., St. Marys
  • First Baptist Church Kingsland 295 E Chester St., Kingsland
  • The Kings Village 451 South Lee St., Kingsland

For those unable to rely on friends and families for assistance, local officials are partnering with neighboring counties to accept citizens in temporary, but longer term shelters. Citizens able to travel independently are encouraged to do so.

For those who have no means of travel to one of the out-of-county shelters, arrangements are being made to provide transportation by school or department of corrections buses. Out-of-county shelters may be found at http://www.redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery-services/find-an-open-shelter.

Camden County Emergency Management Officials are requesting that motorists traveling along I-95 do not stop in Camden County because there are no driver services available due to Hurricane Irma.

Glynn County

Officials have implemented Phase 2 of the re-entry plan for Glynn County. Phase 2 includes critical workforce conducting life safety operations and essential infrastructure emergency support personnel.

A form of personal ID, such as a driver’s license, and a business ID with your name will suffice for re-entry. If you do not already have a critical workforce pass, none will be given out this week.

Damage assessments are currently in progress. While crews work uninterrupted by traffic, every minute Glynn County limits access increases the speed of recovery exponentially. It is still not safe to be out and about in the county.

Law enforcement personnel at various checkpoints will be restricting re-entry to those who do not meet the requirements for Phase 2 entry.

For those who are currently in Glynn County and the city of Brunswick, please continue to shelter-in-place. For those away from home, officials understand that this hurricane has disrupted lives of citizens on multiple levels, however, re-entry into Glynn County and the City of Brunswick are not allowed until further notice.

Jekyll Island has begun Phase 1 re-entry, which includes critical workers conducting life-safety operations and essential infrastructure support. All personnel included have been issued a re-entry permit and must show ID, such as a driver's license. It is not safe to be out and about on the island right now.

Assessment teams are being deployed to determine the damage to the community and will repair the damage as rapidly as possible. Widespread power outages, limited water and sewer capabilities, fallen trees, downed power lines, and flooded neighborhoods create a life-threatening combination and it is simply not safe for citizens to return. Do not touch fallen power lines as they can be extremely dangerous.

The Glynn County School System has canceled school through Friday. Glynn County and city offices will be closed through Wednesday. A curfew from midnight to 6 a.m. has been extended to Saturday.

Fallen trees and high winds have caused power outages on St. Simons Island and on the mainland. JWSC is confident that due to a lack of power, water service will be intermittent and sewer will be unavailable and has recommended conserving water. JWSC has not issued a boil water advisory at this time.

The power outages are resulting in a significant threat of sewer overflows. Due to lack of power, the North Mainland district has 75 percent of its stations down and the St. Simons Island district has 71 percent of its stations down.

Law enforcement personnel at various checkpoints will be restricting re-entry. Only essential hospital staff, with both a state ID and a hospital issued ID, will be allowed re-entry at this time.

Glynn County police two men and a 17-year-old were arrested breaking into a Dollar General store on Perry Lane Road. Police warn they are alert to looters during the recovery period.

Ware County

All Ware County schools will be closed through Friday. 

Officials have consolidated the Red Cross Shelters into one unit located at Ware County High School. The Waycross Middle site has been closed. Officials have vacated Ware County Middle, but Glynn County government remains at Williams Heights Elementary.

Officials said on Tuesday that they have a long way to go before they are ready for students, buses and others to travel the roads.

Trees are still falling by the hour, officials said. As crews get trees cleared, others fall. The ground is so saturated and was even before Irma arrived.

Road crews are working on the roads, but it's an extensive undertaking. Crews are also working to clean up and repair the damages in the schools. Power remains off at some locations, including the board office. 

he football scheduled for Friday has been rescheduled to September. School officials will continue discussions with city and county officials as well as EMA director Jonathon Daniell to determine the best course of action, considering all factors. 

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