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Savannah area dumps ‘voluntary’ storm evacuations

Officials say ‘recommended,’ ‘early’ sound more serious

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POSTED: June 5, 2012 9:00 a.m.

SAVANNAH — Emergency planners for Savannah and surrounding Chatham County say they will no longer call for “voluntary” evacuations ahead of hurricanes and tropical storms.

As the hurricane season officially started Friday, the Chatham County Emergency Management Agency said it will use the terms “recommended evacuation” or “early evacuation” when storms threaten the Georgia coast but don’t warrant mandatory actions.

Officials said the term “voluntary” just doesn’t sound serious enough.

Last week, South Carolina officials announced they’re also ditching the term “voluntary” for describing evacuations.

In Georgia, evacuation decisions are handled at the local level, county-by-county.

Despite rain from Tropical Storm Beryl last weekend, it’s been years since the Georgia coast faced a full-blown evacuation.

The last one happened in 1999 as Hurricane Floyd narrowly missed Savannah before striking North Carolina.



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