Tybee residents, officials relieved tide levels lower than anticipated

Source: WTOC
Source: WTOC
Published: Sep. 5, 2019 at 11:40 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - The storm was expected to bring record flooding to Tybee Island overnight. Thankfully, the high tide did not get as high as expected.

A lot of Tybee residents are finally exhaling. The slow-moving nature of the storm gave many of them more time to stress, but it also gave them time to prepare.

Once it appeared like impacts were definite, public works crews spent a full day reinforcing the dunes and trucking in sand. The city really learned lessons from the effects of Irma.

Both beach entrances along Butler Avenue were reinforced as well. Thankfully, the dunes did their job.

The city manager said the extra barricades will stay in place through hurricane season.

“Storm surge came at low tide, unlike Irma when the storm surge came at high tide, so we were looking at some severe flooding along Lewis Avenue and some of the back areas, and we didn’t see that at all. Highway 80 stayed clear the whole night, so we were very pleased,” Tybee Island City Manager Shawn Gillen.

WTOC also met a man who spent much of last week putting sandbags and plywood up on businesses and homes. He said preparation is key with a storm like this.

“I’m happy that we dodged this bullet. It was a major bullet, and the people down in the Bahamas - I give love to them and Charleston all the way up the coast that’s still affected,” Joe Sheffield said.

We also saw the power crews out there earlier Thursday. One of the linemen said they had about 3,000 outages on the island. A good chunk of those were on the north end of the island where the wind gusts were the strongest.

The main concern was the flooding around high tide especially on Lewis Avenue. One resident packed his home in a U-Haul because he was so concerned.

A lot of Lewis Avenue residents put sandbags, wood, tarp, and anything else that would keep the water out. WTOC stopped by Wednesday as some people were taking last minute steps to prepare for Hurricane Dorian.

Some said they can’t rebuild if it floods again, so you can imagine how relieved they are.

“We stayed up until 1:30 a.m. or so. When we checked the dock, the water wasn’t up that high and then we went to bed. We were just so relieved that it was over with. The wind was blowing but it wasn’t that bad,” Lewis Avenue resident Linda Ayala said.

“We’ve already flooded twice with Matthew and Irma, and we figured that was going to happen again," said another resident, Bill Lewis. “That’s why we did all the preparation. We got everything up off the floor in here, at least three feet high.”

A lot of people on Lewis Avenue were just awarded a federal grant to lift their homes out of the flood zone. That work should start in November.

They’re hopeful this is the only action they see this hurricane season.

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