Glynn County agency: Stop using water now

3:21 p.m Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017 AJC Homepage
JOSHUA SHARPE/AJC
Irma sent water rushing ashore with such force it ripped up a sidewalk made of paver stones.

As Glynn County residents return home through newly-opened borders, they travel into an area with myriad potential dangers and headaches after Tropical Storm Irma.

One important one: they’re being asked to stop using water because the influx of residents who’d been away is further choking the sewer system.

The water’s “fine” to drink, but the system can’t handle so much use because it has been inundated with seawater, said Jay Sellers, spokesman for the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission.

“The sewer by default has become a septic tank,” he said. Water is spilling from manholes as about half the system’s pumping stations remain down. “It’s bubbling over and that’s sewage.”

Sellers said the goal is to have the system back to normal by Saturday afternoon. But that’s only a goal, he cautioned.

Some standing water is contaminated by various small spills, the county said.

Red blocks show pump stations that aren’t working around Glynn County in this screen shot from 3:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Though Glynn County is home to multiple federal and state superfund sites, Sellers said the aquifers used by the water system are so far underground that contamination is unlikely. The superfund designation is given to sites deemed potentially dangerous from contamination and ordered to clean up.

Half of Georgia Power customers were without power in Glynn County, as of 11:30 a.m. Thursday. Traffic lights are out and should be treated as stop signs. Live wires are down over roads.

RELATED: Glynn County is shut down ‘until further notice’ after serious flooding

RELATED: Tybee Island reopens as evacuation order lifted 

MORE: Georgia governor warns of ‘slow’ recovery from Irma

Trees are down everywhere. Because the ground is saturated, officials expect even more trees to fall.

There is also still a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m.

All restaurants must be inspected before opening, officials said.

“Safety of citizens and the crews out in the field continues to be our main priority as we clean up the hazardous conditions,” county spokesman Dhwani Patel said. “When these conditions have been contained, you will still need to proceed with caution because the roads will be inundated with traffic.”

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A year ago, Hurricane Matthew hit the small town of Saint Mary, which sits at the southeast tip of the Georgia coast. Residents here didn't see near as much damage then as Hurricane Irma caused Monday morning, as age old docks were wiped away. Video by Ryon Horne/RHORNE@AJC.COM
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