SAVANNAH, Ga. — Tens of thousands of customers were still without power Tuesday along Georgia’s coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew as residents continued the tasks of cleaning up and putting their lives back together.
In Savannah and surrounding Chatham County, more than 60,000 homes and businesses were without electricity for a fourth day, including in Savannah’s Gordonston residential neighborhood. Wearing work gloves and a wide-brimmed hunting hat, David Donaldson was picking up limbs scattered in his front yard Tuesday, while Georgia Power crews worked nearby.
“I’m ready to have the lights back,” Donaldson said, noting that one of the workers had told him Monday that it would be two or three days until power was restored.
Donaldson and his girlfriend evacuated to Augusta as the storm approached last week and returned to a darkened neighborhood Monday. He said they had been burning candles for light at night and were able to get ice at a convenience store nearby.
Statewide, utility companies reported Tuesday that more than 70,000 customers remained without power in southeast Georgia and along the state’s coast.
Farther south along the coast, The Jekyll Island Authority announced in a news release that it had reopened the island off Savannah to public access Tuesday, while Glynn County officials said they were allowing people who could show proof of residency or property ownership — along with business employees — to return to St. Simons Island. They said that starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday, they will allow full public access to St. Simons.
Glynn County schools will reopen on Monday, county officials said in a statement.
In Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium opened its tanks to more than a dozen sea turtles temporarily moved from Jekyll Island, also located off the coast of Savannah, to keep them safe during Hurricane Matthew, authorities said. The storm prompted workers at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to send 18 turtles to Atlanta over the weekend.
The sea turtles are expected to remain at the aquarium’s animal care facility for at least a week as Georgia Sea Turtle Center staff head back to Jekyll Island to evaluate their homes and the facility.
Associated Press Writer Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed to this report.