BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The Latest on Hurricane Matthew in Georgia (all times local):
Savannah’s mayor is warning residents cleaning up after Hurricane Matthew to beware of price-gouging “scoundrels.”
Mayor Eddie DeLoach told reporters at an evening news conference Sunday that one local woman had reported contractors wanting to charge her $7,000 to cut up a fallen tree in her yard. DeLoach said the job was worth about $500.
The mayor said any work crews caught price-gouging by local officials would face jail and prosecution. He said: “We’ll do what we have to do to get rid of these scoundrels.”
The contractors peddling $7,000 for tree removal picked the wrong homeowner for their sales pitch. DeLoach said the woman is his wife’s aunt.
A coroner has identified a man found dead inside his southeast Georgia home in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
Chatham County coroner Dr. Williams Wessinger said Sunday that the body of 41-year-old Jefferson A. Davis was discovered Saturday morning. Wessinger says Davis was in his bed when a large pine tree crashed through the roof and onto him when the storm hit overnight Friday.
Wessinger says Davis’ family had evacuated and he stayed behind.
Davis is the third fatality in Georgia related to harsh weather brought on by the storm.
Two other deaths in Georgia occurred in Bulloch County.
Gov. Nathan Deal has lifted the mandatory evacuation order for six counties in coastal Georgia.
Deal said Sunday in a news release that the order will be lifted at 5 p.m. to allow people displaced by Hurricane Matthew to return home. The governor’s lifted order involves Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh counties.
The barrier islands including St. Simons, Jekyll and Sea Island still remain under those orders.
Deal says local officials may still impose restrictions on entry. He says Interstate 16 has been reopened.
Eric Brown spent most of Sunday using a chain saw and other tools to clear away branches and limbs from a water oak that fell onto a small apartment in the backyard behind his otherwise undamaged home in southeast Savannah.
The neighborhood was still littered with downed trees blocking several roadways and limbs and branches elsewhere. Residents who stayed through the storm were outside with rakes, chainsaws and other tools clearing debris to the side of the road for pick-up.
The 71-year-old Brown says Hurricane Matthew kept him up through most of the night Friday and into early Saturday, and around 3:30 a.m. he felt the ground rattle beneath his bed “like a California earthquake.”
A water oak standing in his neighbor’s yard has fallen over, crushing the corner of the empty apartment unit.
Glynn County officials say people still can’t return to St. Simons Island from the mainland because of widespread power outages affecting the island’s sewer system.
A statement issued Sunday says Georgia Power crews began repairs on Saturday but power outages limit the sewer system’s capacity. The statement says that has created “a potential severe public health issue.”
People still on the island are being advised to boil water before using it.
County officials say they may be able to allow residents back on the island on Monday and will provide an update at 8 p.m. on the county’s website and through Facebook.
They say county crews and contractors have been able to clear most main streets and other roads on the island.
With much of Savannah still without electricity, people are standing in line for ice and groceries like it’s the Black Friday kickoff to holiday shopping.
More than 150 people stood in line Sunday afternoon outside a Kroger supermarket on Savannah’s suburban south side, waiting for the store to open.
Debbie Berta said she had been waiting more than an hour to get propane gas for her grill. She said she also wanted “bread, potatoes, eggs — and a piece of sanity.”
Berta said security guards had been coming outside, first telling the crowd the store would open by 1 p.m., then pushing the time back to 2 p.m.
Chad Schultz was near the front of the line and said he had been there two hours.
His shopping list: ice, bread and beer.
“The essentials, you know, just some stuff that doesn’t spoil in the fridge.”
Schultz said his apartment was without power and he was preparing to spend days in the dark, “There are just so many trees and wires down,” he said.
Karen Cribbs and her husband felt fortunate to escape with their life after being trapped inside a battered southeastern Georgia home during Hurricane Matthew.
While standing outside her home in Savannah, the 59-year-old Cribbs stared long Sunday morning at the tree that crashed through the house’s roof and front door. She and her 60-year-old husband, Wilbur, were trapped for hours after the tree slammed into the residence just after 4:30 a.m. Friday.
The tree that once stood high above their house splintered at the trunk, crashing down into the dark gray shingles roof and white siding.
The couple found themselves “pinned in” by sheet rock and roof beams that had been crushed by the large trunk and canopy.
Both were able to make their way to a hallway in the center of the house, where they stayed in a bathroom lit with flashlights until 7 a.m. when they called their son, also named Wilbur, who lives down the street.
Their son was able to walk behind the house, located on a corner lot, and shoulder his way in through the back door.
Neither was seriously injured.
Chatham County officials say a mandatory evacuation order will be lifted Sunday afternoon but are encouraging people to return home until the next day.
Local officials said Sunday morning the order will be lifted at 5 p.m. Officials say crews are focused on clearing essential roads and are making progress.
But officials warned residents who do decide to return that power outages remain widespread and say some areas still have downed power lines and standing water that can be life-threatening.
Chatham County Chairman Al Scott says the state plans to allow traffic on eastbound I-17, the highway where officials reversed traffic earlier this week to ease evacuation from the coast. Scott says the state will begin opening access to eastbound lanes in Dublin.
Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman says the state Department of Transportation hasn’t cleared a bridge yet to reach the island. He says officials will announce when the island is accessible.
President Barack Obama has declared Georgia a disaster area after the storm of Hurricane Matthew battered the southeast area of the state.
The White House announced Sunday that Obama signed the declaration late Saturday. It’ll free up federal aid to help recovery efforts in counties including Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says damage survey is still continuing.
Obama signed an emergency declaration Thursday for Georgia after Gov. Nathan Deal requested the federal designation. The declaration allowed federal agencies to coordinate disaster relief efforts and use federal aid to assist people dealing with the storm.
It’s designated to 30 counties in coastal Georgia.
The governor of Georgia is expecting to survey storm-struck areas along the coastal region of the state.
Gov. Nathan Deal will visit Brunswick and Savannah on Sunday afternoon. He wants to assess damage in those areas for recovery after the powerful winds of Hurricane Matthew raked through Georgia’s 100-mile coastline overnight Friday.
Georgia Power says about 200,000 homes and businesses on the coast are still without electricity. The bulk of the outages remain in Chatham County, which has more than 111,000.
Some homes suffered roof damage but otherwise appeared undamaged, even on the beach where windows without boards protecting them were unbroken.
There were three fatalities related to the harsh weather brought on by the storm. Two deaths occurred in Bulloch County. The other in Chatham.