Augusta sets up shelter for Hurricane Dorian coastal evacuees

Sunday, September 1, 2019
News 12 at 11 O'Clock

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- As Hurricane Dorian nears the coast, Augusta's preparing for potentially thousands of evacuees.

Sunday night, Governor Kemp ordered several parts of coastal Georgia to evacuate Monday by noon, including individuals east of I-95 in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty, and McIntosh Counties.

As a partner community for Chatham County, Augusta has an agreement to take evacuees from that area, which is why they started preparing shelters to open anticipating an evacuation order ahead.

"When Chatham County decides exactly what they're going to do, then it's not a last minute rush for us to get set up and ready to go," Augusta Fire Chief and EMA Director Christopher James said.

Truck-loads of cots and medical equipment pulled up to Westside High School, the first official shelter preparing to open for about 100 people with functional medical needs.

"Typically these are the folks that always get evacuated first," Chief James said. "So we're here today setting up with the thought of them coming tomorrow, we'll be ready when they get here."

The shelter at Westside High School will act as a hospital floor staffed with AU nurses and doctors.

Augusta EMA director and Fire Chief Christopher James says they're waiting on official decisions to prep and open 9 to 11 more shelters.

"We would not want to see citizens in Savannah with nowhere to go and caught in the middle of this storm which could potentially cost some of them their lives," Chief James said.

Augusta is the partner for evacuees from Chatham County, but Chief James says we'll likely see evacuees from all along the coast.

While the CSRA may not see the catastrophic force of Dorian, Fire Chief James wants to remind people to stay alert.

"Check on your neighbors, definitely the elderly," Chief James said. "If you know you have elderly in your neighborhood and the storm comes and we get flooding or heavy rain, please make sure you check on your neighbor."

As of now, officials say school is not closed yet to accommodate for the shelters. If that changes, we will let you all know before school resumes after the Labor Day holiday on Tuesday.