Originally created 09/14/99

Georgia prepares for Floyd



Coastal Georgians spent Monday preparing for Hurricane Floyd as authorities geared up to order people to evacuate their homes and businesses.

Gov. Roy Barnes mobilized the Georgia National Guard to assist with the evacuation and to be on hand for damages caused by high winds and flooding -- even if Floyd doesn't strike land in Georgia.

Mr. Barnes met with officials of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency at 7 p.m. after returning from the Southern Governors Association meeting in Memphis, Tenn.

"We're in constant contact with GEMA, and we're monitoring what is happening with the storm," said Joselyn Butler, Mr. Barnes' press secretary. "Right now, we are doing what a lot of people are doing, and that is just watching the storm."

Up and down the Southeast coast, homeowners were fueling their vehicles, boarding up windows and making last-minute checks on their property. Many boat owners will anchor their vessels in nearby "hurricane holes" -- deep-water pockets surrounded by marsh -- or leave them in reinforced drydocks designed to withstand hurricane winds.

For the second time in just more than two weeks, a hurricane forced the evacuation of Cumberland Island National Seashore.

Floyd's threat prompted Glynn County and Brunswick officials to declare a voluntary evacuation of low-lying areas beginning at 6 p.m. Monday. Officials will decide today whether to make it mandatory and extend it to other areas.

Cumberland park officials ordered the evacuation for 32 campers who were on the island Monday, said Andy Ferguson, management assistant at the national seashore.

"We're encouraging visitors and residents to leave the island," Mr. Ferguson said. "We have to err on the side of caution."

If the powerful storm continues on its current track, a voluntary evacuation order probably will be issued this morning for all coastal Georgia residents.

"We will strongly encourage them to leave," said William Terrell, a spokesman for the Camden County Sheriff's Office. "A storm of this magnitude, not too many buildings will survive."

Submarines not undergoing maintenance at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base are at sea, said Navy Cmdr. Terry Evans, a public affairs officer.

Base officials will continue closely monitoring Floyd's path before issuing an order to evacuate all but essential base personnel, Cmdr. Evans said.

Those evacuating may have to travel long distances for accommodations because of reports that hotels as far away as Valdosta, Ga., were already booked.

Susie Weitzel, who works at a Holiday Inn in Valdosta, said the 168-room motel is booked solid tonight and Wednesday night with mostly Floridians.

"This area is getting pretty well booked up. We're directing people to Atlanta," she said.

The Coast Guard gave the order Monday to take all 13 ships in the Port of Savannah out to sea.

Pilots moved quickly to get the ships out of Floyd's anticipated path. William Browne, acting master pilot, said it's necessary for ships to be 24 hours ahead of gale-force winds to ensure their safety.

"Ships are like sails. They catch wind and can do a lot of damage to docks if they get loose," Mr. Browne said. "Ships are always better off at sea."

The Coast Guard closed the port to inbound traffic at 8 p.m. Monday. Brunswick's docks closed at 4 p.m. -- its three docked ships had to be out to sea by midnight. Port Royal, S.C., near Hilton Head Island, was on the same schedule as Savannah.