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Georgia can't dodge hurricanes forever

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POSTED: June 26, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Hurricane season officially started Sunday.
Big deal, right?
Actually, yeah, it is.
The trouble is, we just don't seem to get it.
Every year, public safety folks warn us of the risks we could face if a storm churns this way. Then nothing happens and we tend to wonder what all the fuss was about.
Truth is, Georgia has been so lucky for so long it's made us skeptical and that's too bad. Despite the narrowness of Georgia's coast, it isn't hurricane-proof. Hurricane strength storms have rolled ashore in the past - the most recent in 1979 - and it seems the law of averages alone will one day make a hurricane zig instead of zag and put us - not our neighbors in Florida or the Carolinas - in the crosshairs, leaving much of coastal Georgia east of I-95 under water.
That possibility should be enough to make everyone who lives in coastal Georgia take hurricane season seriously.
Nine years ago it appeared as if Hurricane Floyd was headed straight for us. Floyd veered at the last minute, but not before a mandatory evacuation of the Georgia coast led to a widespread traffic jam as people fled the area.
A decade after the Floyd scare, there are twice as many people living here and the roads have changed little. Indeed, normal congestion around here suggests roads will be overwhelmed if an evacuation is ordered and that, combined with the increased cost of gas and Georgia's luck in recent years, may cause some to think twice about leaving in the event of an evacuation order.
That's the wrong approach. Take hurricanes seriously. Be prepared to evacuate if ordered. And, if nothing has happened come November when hurricane season ends, chalk it up to more "Chicken Little" advice from authorities. Better safe than the alternative.
 

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