As Florence Rages in the Carolinas, Savannah Residents Frolic

The famous fountain in Savannah, Georgia’s Forsyth Park. Photo and accompanying photographs of the tranquil city by Dan McCue)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (CN) – As Hurricane Florence rips through North Carolina, Savannah locals see no signs of a hurricane, despite Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declaring a state of emergency in Georgia.

“It’s sunny and beautiful here,” said Savannah homeowner Lane Pelliccione, adding that there had been no weather change from the day before. She says she and her husband, Sean, did no preparation at their home when the hurricane warning was issued.

The governor made his declaration after learning the hurricane forecast on Wednesday and hearing recommendations from officials at Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency. Gov. Deal issued a state of emergency for all of Georgia’s 159 counties on Sep 12.

Despite the so-called “hurricane parties” hosted in Savannah and its coastal beach area, Tybee Island, Tuesday evening, there have has been not even a whisper of Hurricane Florence, according to locals.

“The surf has been very disappointing here, waist high at best,” said local business owner and surfer Stephanie Sweeney. Sweeney’s boyfriend’s parents, who live in Wilmington, N.C., are staying with Sweeney to wait out the storm. “They have spoken to a neighbor who can’t get out of his home because of down trees. Sounds like that’s going to be the big problem … there was definitely island-wide flooding [in N.C.] but not destructive, it sounds like.”

Savannah homeowner Betsy Hughes, who is today planning to get a group of local friends together to go boating, said, “It’s gorgeous.” Her husband, Ryan, added he’s going to wakeboard.

Because of the predicted southern turn of Hurricane Florence from the Carolinas, Deal encouraged Georgians to be prepared for the storm’s inland effects and coastal areas’ storm surge. “The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Florence,” said Gov. Deal in a statement.

“GEMA/HS continues to lead our preparedness efforts as we coordinate with federal, state and local officials to provide public shelter and accommodate those evacuating from other states,” added Deal. “Finally, I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence.”

“So far there is little wind, as it’s all being sucked in that 500-mile-wide hurricane,” said Lauren Gallet de Saint-Aurin, a Savannah homeowner.

Judy Salzman, project coordinator at Thunderbolt Marina, a Savannah marina that caters to local and international clients, said, “We really don’t anticipate terrible, terrible weather. It will be a tropical storm, at the worst, [in Savannah]. I don’t even expect that.”

She added that the marina employees watch updates regularly on the storm, suggesting the website for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Salzman said the marina, nonetheless, always prepares for a hurricane where there is a threat of one. “We make sure our area is cleaned up. Mostly what we do and have done is help boaters in the area and yachts coming in from out of the area, find safe dockage and haul-out for the storm. About half of the boats that are here have hauled out. The larger ones are still sitting in the water.”

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