Lowcountry Georgia dodged bullet with Irma
Editor’s note: A longer version of this editorial appeared on savannahnow.com last week:
Savannah and coastal Georgia and the South Carolina Lowcountry dodged a bullet as Hurricane Irma, which only days ago brought death and destruction to the Caribbean and parts of Florida, delivered a diminished and glancing blow by the time it reached south Georgia.
Instead of direct hit, the area suffered through machine-gun steady rain and blustery winds — much like a typical summer Southern thunderstorm. The worst areas were some lower lying creekside and marshfront neighborhoods, along with U.S. 80 to Tybee, that suffered from predicted flooding due to the Irma-related storm surge.
But fortunately for now, the worst seems to be over. Residents are encouraged to stay positive, and informed, as the post-Irma recovery phase kicks in.
Only a few days ago, experts were worried that Irma, a Category 5 storm and one of the most powerful ever measured in the Atlantic, was making a beeline for Savannah and the Savannah River basin. This pessimistic forecast prompted Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to declare a state of emergency in the state’s coastal counties that were the most exposed to this potentially deadly threat.
Many residents rightly heeded the call to get out of town, although it’s unclear how many actually left compared to those who chose to hunker down after seeing the more favorable storm track. Some even left a few days earlier, not wanting to get stuck in outbound traffic on I-16 and I-95. Many reasonably decided, when Irma was still a Category 5 storm, that this was one of those times to be selfdriven and not to trust the government, and to be better safe than sorry. Besides, hurricanes are notoriously fickle.
And while some evacuees may feel that the governor possibly jumped the gun and acted prematurely, Mr. Deal made the responsible decision to call for an evacuation, based upon the best, most trusted information he had at the time.
This is not the time to play Monday morning quarterback about the timing of the evacuation. Instead, it’s time for everyone to count their blessings. It’s also time to pray for people who live in the hard hit areas of the Caribbean and South Florida. Georgians have no room to gripe.
Next comes the return to normalcy, which is seldom easy or seamless.
It’s important to stay positive during this period, and to remain mindful and thankful that this area dodged a pretty awful bullet.
Fortunately, the transition to normal after Irma should be easier than after Matthew, which clobbered this area, knocking down forests of trees and toppling power lines.
For now, it appears that Irma’s clean-up should not be as extensive as post-Matthew.
That would be a major blessing, as it would mean less cost to the public and a speedier recovery time.
As thousands of evacuees soon begin the long journey home, they should thank their lucky stars that they have homes and businesses to return to — and that they have power — unlike residents in areas that Irma hit head-on.