Atlanta

Ian restrengthens into a hurricane before hitting GA/SC coast

ATLANTA — State officials said there are no planned evacuations along Georgia’s coast as forecasters believe Ian restrengthen into a hurricane, but they are also warning residents who don’t leave that they will be on their own for a while as the storm passes by.

Gov. Brian Kemp and GEMA Director Chris Stallings gave a briefing from the Savannah airport, which they said remains open and operational.

The Georgia ports of Savannah and Brunswick have cleared all cargo ships from their terminals but will continue trucking and rail service at least until 6 p.m. Thursday.

Kemp announced the closing of the Sidney Lanier Bridge between Brunswick and Jekyll Island due to the potential of heavy winds.

“You should not underestimate this storm,” Kemp said. “You should take this seriously to protect your family and try to protect whatever belongings that you can.”

Kemp reiterated there was no plan for mass evacuations.

RELATED STORIES:

“We’ve not had any reason to order any kind of evacuation,” he said. “We’ve been very transparent with people about what they’re going to face. If people are worried about that, they should move to higher ground or perhaps move inland and let the storm pass and then reassess when to go back.”

Channel 2 Action News spoke exclusively with Stallings after he returned from the coast. He can better coordinate local, state and federal responses from the State Operations Center at GEMA headquarters.

He said that GEMA is already beginning to see heavy rain in Glynn County from Ian’s outer bands. He said there’s more danger of flooding from heavy rains than from the expected 3- to 5-foot storm surge.

“We’re already starting to see some flooding down in the Brunswick area,” Stallings said. “We’re expecting that. Nothing is catching us off guard. But we’re still leaning forward, not taking it for granted.”

RELATED NEWS: