As Hurricane Irma appeared to be leaving Liberty County with only light damage Monday afternoon, the storm surge and high spring tides flooded east-end homes and temporarily cut off thousands of residents.
A score of the flooded homes were along Tideland Avenue on Isle of Wight, where Brandon Layfield said he had just gotten a glimpse inside his home just before 4 p.m. He had used a boat to float from the road into a carport attached to his home.
Back alongside the road, he said, “Baby, it’s up to the tabletop,” to January Moon, who he shares the home with.
On the outside, water was lapping at the bottom of the windows.
“I love that table,” Moon said, adding that if she could get anything from their home it would be the oak table and chairs.
The home where they’ve lived for about a year sits between Tideland and Hackett’s Canal, a tributary off Jones Creek near Midway.
About the same time, Chris Beasley, operations manager for the Liberty County Road Department and other county and Georgia Forestry Commission workers, as well as sheriff’s deputies, were standing guard on Isle of Wight Road, keeping motorists from driving across Jones Creek bridge.
Beasley said they blocked the road not because of fear for integrity of the bridge, but because of the water flowing over the causeway on either side the bridge. Jones Creek is normally a 25-yard wide canal in the middle of a half-mile marsh. Isle of Wight Road is the only dryland access to the community of several hundred homes five miles northeast of Midway.
Beasley said the bridge’s integrity would be checked, but that once the water receded off the causeway and debris cleared the road would be reopened. That happened about 5:30.
As crews were preparing to reopen the road, county commission Chairman Donald Lovette arrived. He said high water had forced the closure of the Colonels Island causeway of Islands Highway. That area is farther east than Isle of Wight, where high tide comes earlier.
Lovette and Liberty Regional EMS Director Shawn Parker were out surveying damage. The chairman said it was too earlier for an accurate assessment.