SAVANNAH - By the time hurricane-force winds are projected to start whipping through this coastal Georgia town, the streets will be empty - or else. From 10 p.m. Sunday through 6 a.m. Monday, only emergency personnel and law enforcement officers will be permitted to be out and about.
“No one will be allowed on the street unless you are an essential person - and that includes the press,” Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher said, announcing the emergency curfew during a Sunday afternoon news conference. “It is a minimum fine of $1,000 or 60 days in jail, or both. You’re going to have to adhere to it or you’re going to be a guest in my bed and breakfast.”
Here’s the entire news conference:
Officials here expect strong winds to kick up around midnight, lasting through much of Monday. At least eight inches of rain and a storm surge of four feet are expected, and because Hurricane Irma’s projected arrival coincides with high tide, widespread flooding is of grave concern. The Talmadge Bridge has been closed and officials will cease evacuation operations at 8 p.m.
“If you do decide to stay, stay inside. Stay away from windows,” Chatham County Emergency Management director Dennis Jones warned, adding that people are advised to unplug major appliances in case of power loss, to reduce the threat of a power surge later.“Avoid walking through standing water,” he said. “You may not know what hazards are associated with that flooded area.”
Once winds reach 39 mph, all emergency responders will be called in off the street.
“We’re talking a 12 to 15-hour period of sustained winds, where public safety will not be able to respond to you,” Jones said. “If you intend to evacuate, you need to get out now. You’re running out of time.”