Hurricane Dorian’s outer bands reach South Georgia

St. Marys survives first high tide with minimal flooding downtown
St. Marys residents Jen Fabrick (left) and Anne Herring (right) walk through flood waters covering a street near their homes as Hurricane Dorian passes near Georgia’s coast on Wednesday afternoon.   Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

St. Marys residents Jen Fabrick (left) and Anne Herring (right) walk through flood waters covering a street near their homes as Hurricane Dorian passes near Georgia’s coast on Wednesday afternoon. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Georgia’s first high tide of Hurricane Dorian came and went Wednesday afternoon without any real damage to the downtown riverfront businesses of the state’s southernmost coastal city.

Mayor John Morrissey said daybreak Thursday will show how St. Marys fared once Dorian passes and after the overnight high tide.

Still, for now, shop owners exhaled and people in golf carts whizzed by to gawk amid a mix of wind and rain.
"We're really lucky," said Morrissey.

As he spoke about 2:30 p.m., the water barely topped the curb during the high tide as Dorian’s outer bands began approaching Georgia from Florida. The storm isn’t expected to make a direct hit in the Peach State, staying mostly out in the ocean as it travels up the coast.

» PHOTOS: Hurricane Dorian’s outer bands reach South Georgia

Morrissey said Dorian has been different because of its slow pace. City and county leaders have been meeting twice a day for a week.
"We have to constantly remind ourselves that the storm is coming," he said.
St. Marys' 18,000 residents have been under mandatory evacuation since Monday, but not everyone left. Some of those who obeyed Gov. Brian Kemp's orders have been calling since Tuesday, asking when they could come back.
Most of what had flooded as of Wednesday afternoon was a construction site for a drainage project.

St. Marys lost a marina of boats during Hurricane Irma two years ago, when some businesses took on two feet of water.

On Wednesday afternoon, retiree Jen Fabrick, 65, and her friend Anne Herring, 72, traipsed through the high-tide flood water laughing.

Fabrick is building a home in St. Marys, where she moved in 2016 after two decades as the chief architect at Atlanta’s Emory University. To account for periodic flooding, she has designed the home so that the living area is elevated.

“I’m going to have a front-row seat to climate change,” said Fabrick.

St Marys resident Scott Vincent, who spent the last few days working storm preparations in the city, finally got some time to try his luck fishing late Wednesday morning as Hurricane Dorian traveled up the coast from Florida to Georgia.    Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

icon to expand image

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

The wind gusts came more often here by late morning, when the rain was still patchy.

After watching three movies in 12 hours, resident Scott Vincent decided to stop pacing around his house and do something by late morning.

The 45-year-old brought some frozen shrimp down to St. Marys River to fish. He was hoping for flounder, thinking he might grill it whole with salt and pepper should the power go out.

He works for a contractor doing the city drainage project downtown. Vincent spent Tuesday making sure the site was ready for Dorian. He helped drill cones into the ground to direct traffic, laying three feet of gravel along 200 feet of sidewalk, so the walkway wouldn’t wash out. Workers also secured all pieces of equipment so winds didn’t turn them into missiles.

“I work all the time, so I figured I’d get a day off, I’d fish,” said the Boston native.

He doesn’t think Dorian is going to be that bad for St. Marys, where he has lived for 15 years and raised two sons.

The problem with that, he admitted, is that Dorian is so slow moving it has lulled people into a sense of security and some folks are tired of hearing about it.

“That might fool people,” he said.

About 30 miles up the coast, Glynn County along with Jekyll Island also were experiencing Dorian’s outer rain bands by late morning, according to county spokesman Matthew Kent.

He told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they were expecting flooding in some parts of Brunswick that usually flood during heavy rain.

Kent said the F. J. Torras Causeway to St. Simons Island, which has closed during past hurricanes, was still open around 11 a.m.

But it was still early.

“At this time, the worst of the storm is yet to come,” said Kent. “Shelter in a safe place in your home away from windows. Stay off the roads if possible.”