At some of the entrances to Glynn County, you may pass, but only to pass through.
County officials at a Tuesday afternoon news conference reiterated the county remains on a Phase 2 re-entry footing, meaning only authorized critical infrastructure workers could re-enter the county.
A number of people acknowledged the growing lack of patience among the public to return and begin the cleanup process.
“We know that you are anxious — many of you are in motel rooms, with loved ones when you got there, and you’re not too sure about those people today,” said Glynn County Commission Chairman Bill Brunson, partly joking. “And we want to get you back here just as quick as we can, but we’ve got to bring you back into a safe environment.
“My house was flooded,” he added. “My family is 175 miles away, and they want to come home, but I am not going to bring them into harm’s way. And I promise you, just as soon as we can establish a safe environment — i.e., water, sewer, power lines that have been restored.”
Paulo Albuquerque, Brunswick area manager for Georgia Power, said the problems from Hurricane Irma are equal to that of Hurricane Matthew within Glynn County, but disaster recovery in Florida and throughout the rest of Georgia means there are fewer crews available to do essentially the same amount of work. That also means it will take longer to restore power.
That directly impacts the city and county sewer system. Jimmy Junkin, executive director of the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission, said power outages took three small sewer stations offline and is affecting the sewer system capability. He noted that will continue to be an issue until full power restoration. He also said to not worry about water spurting out of manholes — the stormwater system can get backed up while draining the area of the extensive rain and storm surge over the past several days.
Glynn County Interim Police Chief John Powell asked for people to help others as the recovery process continued.
“Also most importantly, make sure that you protect your neighbors, check on your neighbors, make sure that if they need something, that you try to provide help to them,” said Powell.
Powell also said folks should heed the midnight to 6 a.m. curfew and stay off the streets.
“That curfew is in place for your safety, the public’s safety,” said Powell. “Keep in mind, Glynn County law enforcement — whether it be the city, sheriff’s office, the police department, state law enforcement divisions — we will enforce the curfew, we will enforce the other mandates that have been put in place by the board of county commissioners and the governor’s office.
“We will not stand for, nor tolerate, any kind of misbehavior by people who have that kind of intention,” he said. “If there are any violations of the criminal laws, you’ll find yourself arrested and you will be taken to jail.”
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, who represents Georgia’s 1st District, reminded local residents that federal money is on the way to help, as well.
“The president signed an emergency declaration, so we have FEMA on board, they’re here, they’ll continue to be here, they’ll continue to work with local authorities and with local residents so that we can recover from this,” Carter said. “Last week, in Congress we passed and the president signed over $15 billion in emergency relief for Hurricane Harvey as well as Hurricane Irma — that is very important, that is the beginning — and there will be more funds coming down from the federal government, as you know.”
NPR reported Sept. 8 that of that money, $7.4 billion each is going to the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund and Community Development Block Grant funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. However, cost estimates of Harvey recovery alone sit near $200 billion, so the cost of putting right what two major hurricanes put wrong only grows as damage estimates roll in.
Elsewhere, the Georgia Ports Authority announced the Port of Brunswick should resume operations late Wednesday, once the river pilots finish their channel safety procedures and the power station goes back online. Glynn County schools, College of Coastal Georgia and many private schools like Frederica Academy, however, will stay closed through Friday.