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Savannah, Georgia, declares state of emergency ahead of Idalia impact

Mayor Van Johnson sat down with Scripps News to share how his city is preparing in the direct path of the storm.
Savannah, Georgia, declares state of emergency ahead of Idalia impact
Posted at 8:57 AM, Aug 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-30 11:24:10-04

Now that Hurricane Idalia has made landfall in Florida as a powerful Category 3 storm, it's expected to curl across parts of south Georgia and South Carolina as well. Savannah, Georgia, which is in the direct path of the storm, has already declared a local state of emergency in preparation for strong winds, heavy rainfall, and the potential danger of tornadoes forming.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson told Scripps News conditions were rather tranquil as of Wednesday morning but he expected things to worsen throughout the day.

"For us it's starting to rain and we're starting to feel some of the effects. We don't expect conditions to get any better during the day, though," Johnson said. "I just had a power outage just before I came on [air]. We're just expecting wind. We're expecting about 4 to 6 inches of rain. Gusty winds. For us, coastal flooding and rip currents."

SEE MORE: Category 3 Hurricane Idalia makes landfall along Florida Gulf Coast

Johnson added the coastal city has a dense tree population that could be impacted by the strong winds and rising waters. 

"With the ground being saturated, we've had weather events where some of these trees — which are 200 and 300 years old — were literally ripped out of the ground, ripped out of concrete that covered them," Johnson said. "So it's always an issue for us. We're always talking about the safety of our residents and first responders as they traverse around the city. So that's kind of what we're doing — waiting to see how this [storm] affects us and then be nimble enough to respond appropriately."

SEE MORE: Will Idalia join the long list of destructive "I" storms?

As Idalia moves inland, it also raises the possibility for tornadoes to form that can topple those massive trees Johnson mentioned, potentially impacting homes, property and power.

"We're expected to have a king tide today, which is always challenging for us," the mayor said. "Trees are all over the place of varying degrees of age. You know, they might fall and cause some issues for us as well. We think [the storm] coming from the west side, there are sometimes issues of tornadoes. Not necessarily for us directly before our neighbors around us, but it causes issues for us as well."


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