On the campus of Savannah State University, there was a clear sign that Florence — formerly a hurricane, but by Friday afternoon a tropical storm — was far from everyone’s mind.
Well, almost everybody.
“Thank God for Florence,” a woman said as she left the bookstore and headed for the parking lot. “Look at this beautiful weather.”
In fact, it was almost unfair how beautiful the weather was in Savannah, considering the terror that Florence was unleashing in the Carolinas.
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On Friday, wind gushes occasionally swept through the coastal Georgia region, but only to cool off the blistering heat of the sun. Along the Savannah River, residents and tourists alike strolled the river walk and ducked in and out of restaurants and shops.
A long line of people patiently waited to board the Georgia Queen for a riverboat cruise.
Kimberly “Kmichelle” Dobson, a local radio personality in Savannah, sat outside on her deck in the Starland District. The last time she sat on her deck during a storm scare, she was grilling the meat from her refrigerator after Hurricane Matthew knocked out her power.
Now, she was enjoying what she called a “nice breeze.”
“People feel that we’ve been spared,” Dobson said. “However, they are still getting rations together in the event of lights going out. People are gassing up their cars, and I did go get some water yesterday.”
By midday, the Chatham (County) Emergency Management Agency warned residents to secure “any loose, lightweight items which may become airborne,” because “Chatham County can expect sustained winds between 15-18 mph, with the possibility of maximum gusts up to 30 mph.”
“Isolated power outages are also possible,” the statement read. “Residents can prepare by ensuring they have nonperishable food items, including water, and by charging cellphones and any additional backup batteries.”
Naftal Jahannes, a local librarian, had Friday off to prepare because her branch closed. But it is scheduled to reopen on Saturday.
“Initially, I viewed Florence with a serious dose of trepidation,” Jahannes said. “But now, I have cautious optimism.”
Jahannes was forced to evacuate during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017, both of which caused considerable damage in Savannah and the Georgia coast.
“I would say people I have encountered don’t seem to be bothered at all. They are going on about their business,” she said. “The local weather reporters are more hyped about the situation than anything.”
On Tybee Island, officials removed the red warning flags that dotted the beach all week and replaced them with yellow ones. On the beach, children frolicked in the water, while adults bathed in the sun.
Above on the pier, fishermen seemed frustrated that the fish weren’t biting. But they found time to entertain themselves when someone’s hat flew in the ocean. They took turns casting their lines, trying to retrieve it.
Some came close, but the hat slowly drifted out into the Atlantic.
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