Chatham County evacuees begin trek back home after Dorian

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Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

Frankiln County Sheriff's Office is taking donations for Hurricane Dorian victims. (MGN)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – Just as fast as they came, they’re heading back. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp lifted the evacuation order for Chatham County on Thursday just hours after Hurricane Dorian brushed past the coast.

Over 1,300 evacuees headed to Richmond County from Chatham and will now begin the trek back home.

Officials hope that all shelters will be cleared by the end of the day.

But for Shanna Marshall McCall, leaving Richmond County is a little bittersweet.

“You don't feel like you're in a disaster,” McCall praised Richmond County officials. “They make you feel at home.”

McCall is one of more than a thousand evacuees that packed up their stuff and headed home to what they hope is little to no damage.

“A big thank you first off,” McCall said. “My heart goes out to those in the Bahamas. They're not as fortunate as we are to have all the necessary needs on-hand.”

This week, Augusta was home to 1,321 evacuees. They filled up seven schools, a church, and a community center.

"It's better to look at it from the worst-case scenario,” Fire Chief Christopher James said. “That's what we manage toward, making sure we're prepared and address it in its worst case scenario."

In 2016, Hurricane Matthew brought nearly 4,000 evacuees to Augusta. In 2017, Hurricane Irma brought nearly 3,000.

And while the crowds shut down schools and use up resources, Chief James says safety is the priority.

"It's a process for them because they're going to need a day or so from when the evacuees leave and the schools come in so they can go in and make sure the entire school is clean and sanitized and ready for students to come in on Monday,” James said.

After that, it’s back to school and back to work. And for those evacuees, it’s hopefully back no trace of Dorian.

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