AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- After thousands evacuated to Augusta from Savannah as a part of an agreement between the Garden City and Chatham County ahead of Hurricane Matthew, they are starting to head home. Sunday, Chatham County was deemed safe for evacuees to re-enter.
“In some of our shelters, evacuees are leaving…and some of our self-evacuee shelters,” said Chief Chris James of the Augusta Fire Department. “The ones [who] drove in themselves, some of them are leaving already.”
But many evacuees were bused in to stay at local high schools. Tymar Parks is one of them.
“I came alone,” Parks said. “I came from the inner-city shelter.”
For him and many others, the stay may be longer than expected.
“The original schedule..we was supposed to leave today on Sunday,” he said. “But I think we might stick around till Tuesday. So maybe…have to clean up the damages and clean up the streets before we able to go back.”
Monday, there should be around 2,000 evacuees left.
“May be until Tuesday until we get all the evacuees safely home, and that includes the pets that would have been brought with some of the evacuees as well,” said Chief James.
But in the meantime, there are more than enough resources to support them.
“The food’s been good,” Parks said. “I like the blankets. Got sheets, got comfortable sleeping so…I’m well comfortable.”
In fact, the city of Augusta’s donation center was closed Sunday afternoon.
“At this point, because we have so many donations still here, we want to make sure that we’re able to get those donations to Chatham County because they were donated for the benefit of those residents,” said Augusta city administrator Janice Jackson.
Employees from several of the city’s departments will be working to get those schools ready for students as evacuees leave.
There has been some cost to the city, but the exact amount is not clear. Chief James says efforts have been made to reach out to the state for reimbursement.