For Georgia, it's been decades since a hurricane made a direct landfall along the Peach State coast.
Monday, September 10th, marking the climatological peak of the Atlantic Hurricane season. For Georgia, it's been decades since a hurricane made a direct landfall along the Peach State coast.
What do you think of when you imagine the city of Savannah? Beautiful architecture? Historic buildings? Maybe your mind goes straight to food and Paula Deen? One thing that probably doesn't come to mind is an island.
According to Chatham County EMA Director Clayton Scott, a "Category 2 storm makes the city of Savannah itself an island."
That's right...an island. Scott says a direct impact from even a Category 1 hurricane would mean flooding for Savannah and would be disastrous for surrounding areas.
For the popular vacation destination Tybee Island, the news isn't much better, Scott said that a "Category 1 (and) Tybee Island will go under water. End of discussion."
It's been a quarter of a century since the Georgia coast has been directly hit by a hurricane so for many, the question is not if it will happen, but when. And when that day comes, environmental factors like a shallow shoreline will unquestionably make flooding a huge problem.
"We're considered by the National Hurricane Center probably the worst spot for hurricane storm surge in the United States." said Scott. "Mississippi is real close but we're one of the worst in the country."
According to Scott, a direct hit from a category 1 hurricane leaves 75% of Chatham county under water. A category 5 hurricane leaves 98% of the county submerged.
While evacuation plans are in place, like the reversal of I-16, so that both lanes lead away from the coast, it's been more than a decade since this has been implemented. Scott has no doubt evacuation plans like reversing I-16 will go smoothly, however he does have doubts that residents will take heed.
"I think we would have an enormous amount of complacency. I think a lot of people that should evacuate would stay and those people will unquestionably become homeless. They stand a real good chance of dying."
With the "it could happen tomorrow" mentality, you can never be to prepared. Most importantly, officials like Scott are paid to watch out for your well being. When the day comes and evacuation orders are given, have a plan and be ready.
Scott ended our interview with this message to coastal residents: "When a mandatory evacuation is given, anybody that doesn't leave, at least Chatham county, is insane. It's just that simple"
WGXA will present an half-hour long special on hurricanes in September. It will air on ABC 16 on September 22nd at 2:30 p.m. and on FOX 24 on September 23rd at 3:30 p.m.