WEATHER THE STORM: Hurricane Idalia preparedness information and tips

Updated August 29, 2023 at 2:36 p.m.

Hurricane Idalia is expected to move into Georgia on Wednesday, bringing strong winds and significant rainfall that is likely to cause flooding and storm surges in our region. Safety is of utmost importance at this time, and so we’ve compiled a list of vital information and recommendations from local agencies to help you prepare for Idalia’s landfall. For the latest local weather updates regarding the hurricane, visit wsav.com/forecast/

City of Savannah prepares for storm

Based on expected impacts from Hurricane Idalia, the City of Savannah is taking proactive measures that include checking on infrastructure and making sure citizens and businesses are actively preparing ahead of potential impacts.

The City is actively monitoring the storm and preparing for its arrival. The greatest impacts to our area are expected to occur Wednesday through Thursday. Updates regarding government functions and services will be shared with the public as those decisions are made. 

As the storm approaches, the City would like to remind residents of a few essential things that should be done now:

  • Understand your hurricane/tropical storm risk. Whether on the coast or inland, this storm can impact all residents

  • Make an emergency plan for your family and ensure everyone is aware of the plan

  • Check with your employer for their continuity plan

  • Make sure to have updated insurance information and proper documentation

  • Strengthen your home by decluttering drains and gutters and securing outside items (furniture, lawn equipment, decorations, plants, campaign signs, etc.)

  • Keep your cell phone charged and consider purchasing a backup battery

  • Sign up for alerts from the Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) by texting CEMA to 77295

  • Download the FEMA app to receive real-time updates from the National Weather Service

  • Responsibly gather supplies you may need in case of power outages or flooding 

For questions about City services or to submit a service request, residents can call 311. Service requests can also be submitted online at Savannahga.gov/311request.

For updates specific to the City of Savannah, residents are encouraged to follow @cityofsavannah on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.

City of Savannah to declare state of local emergency

Based on expected impacts from Hurricane Idalia, Mayor Van R. Johnson, II will declare a state of local emergency in Savannah effective Aug. 30 at 6 a.m.

A state of local emergency provides the City Manager the authority to execute emergency management plans and procure necessary resources to prepare for and respond to any impacts brought on by Hurricane Idalia. 

Savannah residents and businesses are urged to review emergency plans and kits ahead of the arrival of inclement weather. Information on preparedness can be found at ready.gov/hurricanes.  

City government offices, with the exception of essential emergency functions, will be closed on Wednesday, Aug. 30. A decision regarding Thursday’s operations will be made based on storm impacts.

All emergency essential services, including public safety, water and sewer, stormwater, park and tree, and traffic engineering will respond at full capacity as weather permits.

The following impacts to City services will begin on Wednesday, August 30:

  • All non-emergency essential City government offices will be closed.

  • In-person payments at the Coastal Georgia Center for utility, tax, license, and other fees will be closed.

  • Street cleaning night services will be suspended.

  • The Dean Forest Landfill and Bacon Park Convenience Center will be closed.

  • Recorder’s Court will be closed.

  • In-person services with the Office of Special Events, Film, and Tourism will be suspended.

  • Building closures, including all services within, will include City Hall, Civic Center, Community Centers, Cultural Arts Center, Floyd Adams City Services Complex, Savannah Municipal Services Annex and the Savannah Entrepreneurial Center.

  • Non-emergency public safety offices will be closed, to include police records.

Sanitation collection services will continue through the day on Tuesday, Aug. 29, but will be suspended on Wednesday, Aug. 30. A modified collection schedule will be announced once the storm has passed.

Sanitation customers are also reminded to clear properties of debris and secure refuse and recycling carts, as they can become projectiles during high winds.

For questions about City services or to submit a service request, residents can call 311. Service requests can also be submitted online at Savannahga.gov/311request

Updates on road closures due to flooding will be posted at savannahga.gov/floodalert. For updates specific to the City of Savannah, residents are encouraged to follow @cityofsavannah on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, or visit savannahga.gov/hurricane.

City employees are encouraged to call into the City’s emergency information hotline for updates at 833-251-6020.

Chatham Emergency Management Agency update

Situation: CEMA has entered the Readiness Phase and is closely monitoring Hurricane Idalia. A northward motion is expected, followed by a faster north-northeast motion later today and Wednesday. The center of Idalia is forecast to move over the eastern Gulf of Mexico today. Our area continues to be under a Tropical Storm Watch and Storm Surge Watch.

Timing: The greatest impacts are expected to occur in Chatham County Wednesday through Thursday. In the next 24 hours, Chatham County could receive Tropical Storm force winds.

Impacts: The greatest impact to Chatham County could be heavy rainfall, with predictions of up to 3-6 inches, coastal flooding, 2-4 feet of storm surge, rip currents, and Tropical Storm winds. Residents in low-lying areas should stay alert for possible flooding. A risk of severe weather, including tornadoes spawned by Idalia also exists.

OPCON 3: Readiness Phase. CEMA staff is monitoring and assessing any potential impacts.

Actions you need to take: Ensure you are monitoring your phone/email for updates on the storm.  Secure loose items that could be affected by winds. Prepare for potential power outages due to high winds and isolated tornadoes. 

To receive the most up to date information from CEMA, you can register for CEMA Alerts. To register, visit CEMA’s Website or text CEMA to 77295.

Savannah-Chatham County Public School System Advisory

The track of Hurricane Idalia is expected to bring severe weather to our area with the greatest impact to Chatham County expected Wednesday through Thursday. As a precaution, Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools will close in-person learning and will shift to virtual learning on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, and Thursday, August 31, 2023.  There is no change to operational schedules today.

Students should log on for independent online learning through our on-line learning platforms including Brightspace, D2L, Microsoft Teams, and/or Google Classroom.  Teacher support times will be made available for your child through various online communications.  Students should refer to their school-provided Choice Board if they are unable to access online learning platforms during this virtual shift.  As a reminder, Friday, September 1, 2023, was already a scheduled E-Learning day in advance of the Labor Day holiday weekend. 

 After the storm passes, SCCPSS Maintenance crews will assess any damage to our schools and school grounds.  We expect schools to re-open on Tuesday, September 5, 2023, following the Labor Day holiday.  If there is any change to that expectation, parents will be notified through the SCCPSS parent notification system by call and email over the weekend. 

In addition, make sure to check SCCPSS.com and follow us on social media for the most up to date information from the district.

Georgia Southern University closure and operations information

All of Georgia Southern University’s campuses will operate as follows:

Wednesday, Aug. 30: The University will have reduced operations with essential personnel only and all classes will move online. All University-sponsored events are canceled. 

Thursday, Aug. 31: Classes will remain online. Pending an “all-clear from officials,” all campuses will reopen at noon.

Friday, Sept. 1: Normal operations are expected to continue.

For more information and updates, visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu/alert.

Georgia Power is ready to respond to potential customer outages in anticipation of Hurricane Idalia

Hurricane Idalia is expected to move into Georgia Wednesday, bringing the potential for heavy rains, gusty winds and isolated tornadoes across the southern and coastal parts of the state. Georgia Power is closely monitoring weather conditions and is ready to respond to any service interruptions safely and as quickly as possible. The company encourages customers to monitor their local weather conditions and keep safety a top priority as severe weather moves in and after the storm.

To help its customers prepare and to provide more information on restoration efforts, Georgia Power has developed a series of storm videos and tips for before, during and after a storm on its Outage and Storm Center site, GeorgiaPower.com/Storm. The site includes important preparedness and safety information such as the following:

  • Before a Storm:  Know your risks of flooding and tropical storm or hurricane strength winds. Check your emergency kit, unplug major appliances and charge cell phones in case you lose power. Follow any evacuation orders from local authorities.

  • During a Storm: Have several ways to receive emergency notifications and weather updates. Take safe shelter inside a sturdy building away from windows and doors. Avoid contact with conductors of electricity - appliances, metal objects and water.

  • After a Storm: Never touch any downed or low-hanging wire, including telephone or TV wires that touch a power line. Never pull tree limbs off power lines or enter areas with debris or downed trees as downed power lines may be buried in wreckage. Additionally, do not walk or drive through standing water or step onto saturated ground where downed lines may be present.

Before severe weather strikes, customers are encouraged to become familiar with Georgia Power's Outage Map within the Storm Center that makes tracking and reporting outage information easy. The Outage Map automatically adjusts to function on any desktop, handheld or mobile device and has direct access to Georgia Power's social media channels. Additionally, customers have greater search capabilities with concise alert information relating to their specific outage.

More Tools You Can Use:

  • Outage & Storm Center: Available at www.GeorgiaPower.com/Storm, customers can visit this site to sign up for Outage Alerts, report and check the status of outages, and access useful safety tips and information. Customers can report and check the status of an outage 24 hours a day by contacting Georgia Power at 888-891-0938.

  • Outage Alerts: Subscribe to the free Georgia Power Outage Alert service to receive personalized notifications and updates via text message.

  • Social Media Updates: Follow the company's social media channels Facebook.com/GeorgiaPower, Twitter.com/GeorgiaPower and Instagram.com/ga_power for the latest information.

CAT continues to monitor Hurricane Idalia

Chatham Area Transit (CAT) is working with Chatham County, the City of Savannah, and the Chatham Emergency Management Agency as Hurricane Idalia could bring potential impacts to our area.

As of now, all modes of transportation, including Fixed-Route, Paratransit, and the Savannah Belles Ferry, are all operating as normal. However, if conditions as projected occur or worsen, CAT will suspend all operations on the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 30. Any operation that services Hutchinson Island may be suspended sooner.

CAT recently transitioned to a new temporary service modification on July 17, 2023. We encourage all riders to check the “Modified Schedules and Map” page on our website to get the most updated bus times and information.

The link to the Modified Schedules and Map can be found here: catchacat.org/current-schedules/

Riders can also stay in the know about CAT services by texting “RIDECAT” to 41411 or by following us on social media.

FEMA is closely monitoring Georgia and South Carolina and stands ready to provide support as needed

Those living in the path of Hurricane Idalia should take steps now to prepare for the impacts of this storm, which is forecast to become a major hurricane before it reaches the Gulf Coast of Florida. The risk of life-threatening storm surge and hurricane force winds may begin along portions of the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle as early as Tuesday. 

Residents and visitors in potentially affected areas should learn their evacuation routes now, have a family emergency communications plan, charge their devices and batteries, ensure they are receiving emergency alerts and check on their neighbors, especially those who are older adults or may need additional assistance. 

Residents should plan for family members, pets and service animals’ evacuation plans. People with disabilities, older adults and caregivers may need to take additional steps to plan for their individual circumstances to effectively prepare for disasters.

Anyone in the forecast path of the storm should monitor local weather alerts for updates, follow directions provided by their local officials and heed local evacuation orders.

FEMA encourages everyone to visit www.Ready.gov or www.Listo.gov to learn more about how to be prepared and how to protect yourself and your loved ones during emergencies. Make sure your family, friends and neighbors understand the potential affects Tropical Storm Idalia could bring to your area.

Now is the Time to Prepare

Get Emergency Alerts: Make sure to sign up to receive weather alerts in your community and stay updated on the latest weather news from the National Weather Service. 

Gather Supplies: Have enough supplies for your household. Include medication, disinfectant supplies and pet supplies. After a hurricane, you may not have access to these supplies for days or weeks.

Don’t drive through flood waters: Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low-lying areas at bridges and at highway dips. As little as 6 inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

Personal Safety: Listen to officials and stay off the roads if told to do so. Evacuate if told to do so. 

Evacuating: If you are in potentially affected areas, you should be familiar with evacuation routes, have a family emergency communications plan, keep a battery-powered radio handy and have plans for your family members and pets. If you are a person with disabilities, you may need to take additional steps to plan for both your needs and that of your service animal.

Published August 29, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

     
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