SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Ahead of Hurricane Dorian, officials are putting plans into place on Tybee and Cockspur islands, and further up the coast in Hilton Head.
Fort Pulaski, located on Cockspur Island, will close at noon on Sunday to prepare for possible impacts from the storm. The National Park Service made the announcement Saturday.
Officials say the park will remain closed until after the storm has passed and will reopen once they have assessed damages and ensured all is safe for visitors.
Just down the road on Tybee Island, red flags are flying at the beach. This means beachgoers should not be in the water any deeper than waist-high.
A rip current advisory goes into effect Sunday morning, Mayor Jason Buelterman stated Saturday afternoon.
“I think Tybee residents, pretty much everyone in our area, are on pins and needles, just like people from Miami all the way up to North Carolina,” Beulterman said.
“We do know that there are going to be impacts this weekend associated with rip currents and high surf, and of course, we’re going to have a lot of people here for Labor Day weekend, so we’re doing all we can to keep people safe,” he told News 3.
Those steps to keep residents safe, he said, include ordering backup lift station pumps in case of extended power outages, and ensuring the nursing home on Tybee has an evacuation plan in case it comes to that point.
In preparation, sandbags are being provided at Memorial Park for residents.
Buelterman said Highway 80 is not expected to be closed, but drivers are urged to use caution.
Up in South Carolina, where Gov. Henry McMaster has declared a state of emergency, American Red Cross volunteers are also mobilizing in preparation for Dorian.
Red Cross officials in North Charleston warn that South Carolina could see heavy rain and wind as well as dangerous rip currents along the beaches over the next several days.
Lifeguards in Hilton Head are also monitoring the situation with Dorian.
“From the beach aspect, you’d expect to see rougher-than-normal surf conditions, including possible rip currents, and any kind of surge we get after the high tides from a storm would make the beach conditions definitely rougher than what we’re accustomed to,” Mike Wagner, operations manager for Hilton Head Island Shore Beach Services, told News 3.
He said even if a storm is hundreds of miles away, some effects can still be felt along the coast, particularly as it strengthens.
“If Dorian were to sit where it is currently and keep turning as a Category 3 or 4 storm, then we’d definitely get some rough surf conditions and potential rip currents from it,” Wagner said.