Georgia to reopen I-16 to eastbound traffic Wednesday

Coastal Georgia officials urging caution as Hurricane Dorian approaches
September 4, 2019 Many people are sticking it out on Tybee Island.



September 4, 2019 Many people are sticking it out on Tybee Island.

Georgia is preparing to reopen Interstate-16 to eastbound traffic starting at noon Wednesday, a top Chatham County official announced.

State authorities opened all four of the interstate's lanes Tuesday to westbound traffic — they call it "contraflow" — to help people evacuate the coast ahead of Hurricane Dorian.
Meanwhile, Dennis Jones, the county's emergency management director, is urging caution. People who choose not to evacuation Georgia's coast, he said, should find a safe place to ride out the storm, get their disaster kits ready and prepare to be without power.

LIVE UPDATES: State of emergency expanded as Georgia coast feels Dorian’s impact

“This is a very dangerous storm. You have a few more hours to wrap up your final preparation efforts,” he told reporters at the police station here. “We do encourage you to leave, if you still choose to leave. You still have time to do so.”

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach called the decision to reopen I-16 to eastbound traffic a good sign.

“We were curious about that, too,” he said. “I am glad they are going to turn it around.”

Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman repeated his call Wednesday for people to evacuate.

“If this storm wobbles a little bit west, we can be in a situation that is probably analogous to what happened with Hurricane Matthew,” he said. “The window of opportunity to leave Tybee is rapidly closing.”

The county is warning of the possibility of tropical storm-force winds of up to 65 mph and three- to five-foot storm surges from Dorian.

A worker builds a dune on Tybee Island ahead of Hurricane Dorian Tuesday. 

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The Northeast Georgia coastal county — it includes Savannah and Tybee Island — could also see up to eight inches of rain. And it is likely that Highway 80 to Tybee Island and other low-lying roadways will be flooded during high tide.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Wednesday morning that Dorian is moving north at 8 mph and packing 105 mph winds. Its core will move “dangerously close” to the Florida and Georgia coasts through tonight, according to the center.

“Chatham County remains under a Hurricane Watch, Flash Flood Watch, Storm Surge Warning, and Tropical Storm Warning,” the county said in a statement Wednesday morning. “This means the conditions are favorable for tornadoes and tropical storm-force winds.”

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