UPDATE: Tybee Island issues mandatory evacuation as some neighbors plan to stay

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. – Tybee Island Officials have upgraded the evacuation to mandatory.

The following is from the city’s website, “Concurrent with the Chatham County Evacuation order issued for 3 PM today, The City of Tybee Island is upgrading to a Mandatory Evacuation for all residents and visitors effective at 3PM today, Wednesday October 5.”

As off Wednesday evening it is the only active mandatory evacuation in Chatham County. However, that does not mean islanders will be forced off the island.

“A lot of them have seen a lot of these watches or warnings and nothing has really hit here in a while there may be some complacency,” says business owner Ed Alexander.

Reactions to the call for evacuation are hit and miss for homeowners on Tybee Island.

“I think we’re going to get some wind damage, we might get a tidal surge but it’s not going to be as bad as they’re making it out to be,” says Bubba Gumbo’s co-owner Mike Grant.

Visitors and some islanders head inland as the city issues it’s first mandatory evacuation since 1999. Those that are staying are hunkering down

“I just don’t think you can be prepared enough I mean you just can’t,” says Alexander as neighbors help board up the windows to his golf cart rental along highway 80 and Campbell street.

The move to make the evacuation mandatory comes after the expected forecast that hurricane Matthew will impact evening and morning tides along Tybee’s only escape route.

“The realization with some of the information that we were getting from the National Weather Service relative to highway 80 and the possibility of highway 80 being covered with water,” says Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman.

For those who stay, they are taking a big risk.

“All of the emergency services are going to be taxed, you don’t want to be unprepared and be one of the things that’s taxing them even more,” says Alexander.

“I think it’s important that people understand it’s their lives they are talking about and it doesn’t make sense to roll the dice on their lives on the line,” the Mayor adds.

The predicted storm surge for hurricane Matthew is around five to seven feet. Timing now is the factor, will it affect a morning high tide or not, city leaders say they expect a clearer forecast on that from weather service by Thursday.

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