TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) – Conditions on Tybee Island were favorable Monday afternoon, but some forecasters predict that could change for the island and for more residents throughout the Coastal Empire.
A high surf advisory was in effect Monday for parts of the Georgia and South Carolina coasts. The waves were smaller during the day, but that high surf is what Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions is most concerned about, especially as Tropical Storm Eta creeps closer later this week.
She is warning everyone to stay out of the water.
“The ocean is beautiful, the ocean it’s dramatic, it’s majestic, but it’s also very dangerous, and we don’t want to lose any more lives,” said Sessions.
It has been less than one month since a soldier — who was also a seasoned surfer — drowned from rough surf on Tybee Island.
“We do not have lifeguards permanently stationed on the beach now, but we do have … the fire department,” the mayor explained. “They do patrol the beach a few times during the winter and they have already started doing that.”
Officials told Sessions on Monday afternoon that she should prepare her residents this week for the potential for high winds and rough surf. She says she relies on information from Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) and the National Weather Service.
“Batten down the hatches, so to speak,” warned Sessions. “Make sure there’s nothing that can fly around outside. I always like to remind people to think about their animals, their dogs, their cats, just to make sure they’re safe.”
Sessions says the island is always protected now when weather threatens Tybee. She says residents are blessed for the beach’s finished nourishment project, thick vegetation, and strategically placed fencing. All protect the island from major storms.
“We’re hopeful we will get through this. We’ve been very fortunate,” the mayor said. “This year, we’re so sad for our neighbors to the south, but we are thankful that we’ve had a considerably mild hurricane season. It could be far far worse.”
Because there are no lifeguards on the beach, there is nobody available to wave flags warning people of the dangers of the ocean. For the most updated information, Sessions suggests you check the city’s website.
If a major storm rolls through the island, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) always surveys the beach to determine how much sand eroded during the storm.