Pending a vote of the Glynn County Commission at 6 p.m. tonight, a mandatory evacuation for all of Glynn County will begin at 8 a.m. Friday — a public safety measure taken in response to anticipated tropical storm force winds as early as Sunday night and hurricane force winds by Monday afternoon from powerful Hurricane Irma.
Jay Wiggins, Director of the Glynn County Emergency Management Agency, called for the evacuation following the latest update from the National Weather Service during a 2:30 p.m. briefing of about 100 county and city officials at the Old Glynn County Courthouse. The latest hurricane tracking path shows Hurricane Irma hugging the coast of Glynn County as a Category 2 (96 to 110 mph) hurricane sometime Monday, bringing with it a storm surge of up to 10 feet above ground along the coast, said Ben Nelson, chief meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville.
The evacuation order for Glynn County precedes by one day and adds the second half of the county to Gov. Nathan Deal's evacuation order made earlier Thursday. Wiggins' recommendation calls for the mandatory evacuation of the entire county Friday morning; Deal's mandatory evacuation order calls for all residents east of Interstate 95 to evacuate beginning Saturday morning.
The county commission will vote on the evacuation at 6 p.m. tonight at the old courthouse, which appears to be a formality judging from the reaction of commissioners attending the afternoon briefing with the weather service. All county governmental offices will close at noon Friday, and will not reopen until Wednesday at the earliest.
"From what we just heard this could cause a large amount of storm surge in the area," Wiggins said. "Storm surge is the most deadly part of a hurricane. I don't like to gamble with money, and I sure will not gamble with people's lives. This has made up my mind: I have made the recommendation to our board of county commission chairman (Bill Brunson) that we start a mandatory evacuation countywide starting at 8 a.m tomorrow morning. I would rather have our folks moving out ahead of that (state-order evacuation)."
The meeting was attended by dozens of city and county public safety chiefs, elected officials, department heads, utilities directors, hospital administrators and others.