When a tropical cyclone forms over the Atlantic Ocean, during the months of June through November, it's called a hurricane; and while the word itself can cause fear and worry to those in its potential path, it is also a topic of interest and intrigue. Following is a bit of historical trivia and facts on hurricanes as well as resources on preparing your family, pets and home in the event one should impact our community.
According to some reports, the first use of a proper name (i.e., Hurricane Sandy or Bob) for a hurricane was by a weather forecaster in the early 20th century. He supposedly named the storms after politicians he didn’t like so he could publicly describe a political figure as “causing great distress” or “wandering aimlessly.”
Hurricanes began receiving names in 1950’s to make it easier for the public to know which particular storm warnings to follow. The list of names to be used for hurricane season is created by the World Meteorological Organization and for the Atlantic season, there are six annual lists with 21 names each. After a list has been used, it repeats every seventh year — unless a specific name is retired and replaced with a new one.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina became the most expensive hurricane in history, costing an estimated $45 billion. Prior to that, Hurricane Andrew, which caused $23.7 billion in damages, had been the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history.
The Hurricane of 1900 was the deadliest natural disaster ever to strike the United States. It made landfall at Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 8, 1900 as a Category 4 storm with estimated winds of 135 mph, and there were reports of 6,000 - 8,000 deaths attributed to its wrath. The hurricane occurred before the practice of assigning official names to tropical cyclones, so it is referred to by a variety of names, including the Great Storm, the Hurricane of 1900, the Great Galveston Hurricane and the 1900 Storm.
When a hurricane is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on another storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity, its name is retired. When a name is retired, it’s stricken from the list and replaced with a like gender name. However, retiring a name actually means that it simply cannot be used for at least 10 years to facilitate historic references, legal actions and insurance claims and to avoid public confusion with another storm of the same name.
Following is a brief summary on Georgia coast/Savannah/Tybee Island’s Hurricane History:
Aug. 27, 1881: A major hurricane hits the coast, killing 700 people
Aug. 27-28, 1893: A major hurricane hits the Georgia and South Carolina coasts, killing 1,000 to 2,500 people and leaving 30,000 homeless
Aug. 31, 1898: The last Category 3 hurricane to date to make landfall in Georgia strikes Savannah & surrounding area with 179 deaths reported
1911: A Category 2 hurricane hits the Savannah area killing 17 people
1940: A Category 2 hurricane hits the Savannah community, killing 50 people
1947: A Category 2 hurricane hits the Savannah area, killing one person
1979: Category 2 Hurricane David hits Savannah's community causing flooding and minor damage.
1999: Hurricane Floyd caused the largest peacetime evacuation in history that involved 3,000,000 people from South Florida to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It was predicted to be a direct hit to Tybee/Savannah as a Hurricane 5, causing the entire county of Chatham to evacuate. At the last minute it turned and hit the South and North Carolina coastline as a Category 3 and was responsible for nearly 2000 deaths in those states.
2016: Most recently, Hurricane Matthew, October 2016, resulted in a mandatory evacuation for Chatham County and created hundreds of down trees, flooding and injuries. Three deaths were reported in Georgia, one of those in Chatham County's Isle of Hope community. On Tybee Island, residents were kept from their homes for 3-4 days before being allowed to return to access tree/structural damages and start rebuilding where necessary. The Governor of Georgia declared Chatham County a state of emergency, which allowed many residents to benefit from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) in helping rebuild.
The positive side of hurricane predictions today is that people and pets can be evacuated in time to save lives. There is sufficient time to form a solid plan of action in the event of a storm threat, and our community is fortunate to have the professionalism of year round planners, the Chatham Emergency Management Agency, better known as "CEMA". This agency's staff, along with other community disaster relief agencies, are constantly educating and preparing local citizens on how to be pro-active in planing for a potential hurricane - as well as other natural and man-made disasters. Please take time to view their website for suggestions on developing your family and/or business disaster preparedness plans at http://www.chathamemergency.org/. Other resources for information & planning include: http://www.cityoftybee.org/emergencymgmt.aspx, www.gema.state.ga.us/, and http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program.
“Those who fail to learn from history are surely condemned to repeat it.” So plan, prepare and then go out and play!