CEMA details plans for Chatham County ahead of Irma

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A mandatory evacuation has been issued for all Chatham County zones, beginning Saturday, September 9 at 8:00 a.m.

According to Chatham Emergency Management Agency, an evacuation for functional, access, and medical needs citizens will occur on Friday, September 8 at 8:00 a.m.

The contraflow for I-16 will begin at 8 AM on Saturday as well, but CEMA Director Dennis Jones encourages residents to leave earlier.

“We always encourage people to leave at a convenient time for their families,” says Jones. “If you leave early chances are you are going to get to your destination at a reasonable time. If you leave late you are going to take what would normally be a four-hour drive and turn it into an eight-hour drive, or a nine or ten-hour drive. my family is leaving tomorrow if that’s any indication.”

Tybee Island Mayor Jason Beulterman has announced evacuation for Tybee Island, starting Friday morning at 8 a.m. due to the high tides on Highway 80 and subsequent flooding.

Tybee Island will take folks to the Civic Center if they have no way to get out. You need to get that ride from the Tybee Island City Hall.

Pooler will also take residents to the Savannah Civic Center on Saturday. You will get that ride at the Recreation Center at 900 South Rogers Street.

Port Wentworth will take you to the Civic Center as well. Be at Port Wentworth City Hall at 9 am Saturday.

“What we saw around the community from Matthew were the impacts from a tropical storm. This is a category 3 category 4 storm potentially, what we saw from Matthew could exponentially increase because of the storm intensity,” said Dennis Jones, CEMA Director.

A local state of emergency has been issued, effective today at 2:00 p.m. This allows CEMA to use the full resource of the county and municipalities.

“With cat 3 storm surge zones, we could have storm surge encroachment of 60% the county. What it does is creates a horseshoe effect, for Chatham. It’s pushing the water in, it pushes water up the Savannah river, up the Ogeechee river and it flows out from there. We are literally in a horseshoe,” said Dennis Jones. “So much water gets pushed in at 17 right there at Ogeechee river, where 17 crosses and 95 crosses, you get water encroachment on 95 and shuts down 95 at that point. It gets water at the bridge and shuts down that bridge until a bridge inspector comes out.”

As of 2:00 p.m., CEMA also went into OPCON 3, which is the Readiness Phase and implements additional coordination activities.

Irma is a Category 5 Hurricane with maximum sustained winds at 175 mph, moving west/northwest at 16 mph and tropical storm force winds extending 185 miles from the center of the storm.

Residents and businesses should monitor official sources for current weather information.

Additional information for Chatham County residents:

  • The Evacuation Assembly Area will open at 8 AM at the Civic Center
  • Shelters are in the process of opening across Georgia. To find a shelter please call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
  • Citizens can report price gouging by calling the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit at 404-651-8600 or 1-800-869-1123.
  • Text ‘FOLLOW CHATHAMEMA’ to 40404 to be added to the SMS notification list, powered by Twitter. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Irma is a Category 5 Hurricane with maximum sustained winds at 175 mph, moving west/northwest at 16 mph and tropical storm force winds extending 185 miles from the center of the storm.

Residents and businesses are encouraged to monitor official sources for current weather information.

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