Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgians 'Blessed' by No Damage; Campgrounds, Visitor Activities Start to Return to Normal Operations

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgians 'Blessed' by No Damage; Campgrounds, Visitor Activities Start to Return to Normal Operations

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, The Times-Union

BRUNSWICK -- The morning after Hurricane Charley slid past the coast, Saturday dawned bright and clear with no reports of damage in Southeast Georgia.

The possibility that Charley would cross Southeast Georgia had prompted officials Friday to close campgrounds and cancel outdoor activities.

American Red Cross shelters in Glynn and Brantley counties had attracted just over a dozen people who had gone their ways about 8 a.m., officials said.

Only one person checked into Brantley County High School Friday night and he left after about three hours when it became apparent Charley was no danger to Southeast Georgia.

Among the dozen at the Georgia Army National Guard Armory in Brunswick was a family from Washington state, said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Ribbron, who is in charge of the building.

The family had been camping in the area, but when the campground closed, they took shelter at the armory, Ribbron said.

The decision to close visitor activities on Cumberland Island National Seashore was probably a mistake, said Julie Meeks, chief of administration. But Meeks said the National Park Service won't do anything unless it can be done safely.

"We made that choice [Friday] and we're going to stick with it. In retrospect, we probably should have done a wait-and-see," she said.

Meeks said her decision seemed sound when a storm with lighting and heavy rain hit the island just before noon Friday, but Saturday started out as a beautiful day.

"You just never know. Look at the people in Punta Gorda. They thought it was going farther north," she said.

The plan was to assess damage Saturday, that many thought was almost certain, and to make repairs and clean up debris over the weekend, Meeks said.

Cumberland Island officials also know that a hurricane that misses can still cause a lot of damage, Meeks said. …

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