Originally created 09/16/99

Few residents stay in Savannah to weather storm



Savannah -- As daylight faded Wednesday, the city was pounded with heavy rain and strong winds as Hurricane Floyd made its presence known.

The few residents who stayed in town to brave the storm faced falling debris and sporadic power outages.

At about 1 p.m., large waves and strong gusts of wind rocked Tybee Island, near Savannah. Signs of life were few, marked by the occasional passing car on the highway connecting the islands and Savannah.

In Savannah, the only people on the roads were police, fire and safety officials patrolling for problems. Branches and trees hit by winds up to 60 mph knocked down power lines.

Few people ventured outside to survey the storm, despite forecasts and predictions that Floyd was going to pass without the devastation predicted a day earlier.

But a handful defied the gusting winds and sheets of rain to see if Floyd lived up to the hype.

Savannah residents Don and Linda Palardy spent the day walking around their deserted neighborhood and River Street with a video camera to record their Floyd memories.

"When we were walking around our neighborhood there was no one there," Mr. Palardy said. "It was like somebody dropped a bomb and we were the only ones left."

Alex Graham, Amy Bragg and Alex Morris drove from Statesboro to Tybee Island to enjoy the view of an incredibly violent Atlantic Ocean and wind gusts capable of knocking a man down.

"When we found out it wasn't going to hit us (in Statesboro), we decided we had to come down here and see what it looked like," Mr. Morris said. Others watched the surf crash on the sand dunes, wondering how Savannah managed to escape the brunt of the storm.

"We got passed again," said Jimmy Tarpley of Wilmington Island. "I guess we're just blessed."

REACH

Mark Mathis at (706) 823-3332 or marmathis@yahoo.com.