SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — As Savannah prepares for the impacts of Ian in the Coastal Empire, many local crews are working round the clock to decrease potential hazards ahead of the storm.

From downed trees, to overwhelmed drainage systems, the potential for flooding, debris and structural damage puts lives at risk.

“The best thing to do before a storm is to prepare before anything like this gets to this point,” said Cody Rawlings who owns and operates a tree services business. 

Rawlings said the days leading up to a big storm are always the busiest.

“People know that they have problem trees and they want to put it off but hurricane season comes and it’s unpredictable,” Rawlings said.

He said waiting too long to take care of a dying or overgrown tree can cause serious and expensive damage.

“Being prepared it’s just worth it in general to not put your family, your loved ones at risk, your home,” Rawlings said.

Debris from unmaintained properties can lead to other issues such as clogged waterways.

Zack Hoffman: “We have 415 miles of closed pipe that we maintain and 152 miles of open ditches and canals, so we’re continuously making the rounds and staying ahead of this,” Zack Hoffman said.

Hoffman is the director of Storm Water Management for the City of Savannah and said crews have been working year-round to keep the drainage systems and canals maintained. Now they’re ramping up those efforts to try and lessen potential flooding.

“We have great elevation in the historic district of Downtown Savannah, we’re about 40 feet above sea level,” Hoffman said. “But then you have that old infrastructure, which is typically smaller pipes that aren’t as resilient for the larger storm vents, they will drain, but the streets will get water in them.”

Hoffman says low-lying areas are the main concern when it comes to flood risk.