Tybee Island officials trying to use different storm warning too - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Tybee Island officials trying to use different storm warning tools for diverse residents


Tybee Island officials are using new technology to better inform property owners when a storm is approaching.

The problem is that plan involves smart phone and internet notifications that may be a bit over the head of many who live on the island.

Three thousand people live on the island, and a very diverse population, including a lot of elderly that some City Council members are concerned won't know how to access the warning systems in the event of a major storm.

"Last thing we want to do is find an elderly person still here, that didn't get out,” said Barry Brown, Tybee Island City councilman.

Brown brought that concern up during the last council meeting, as well as addressing the fact that some of Tybee's population doesn't have Internet access.

"A lot of the elderly people don't have Internet access. So the reason I brought it up was to try to make sure we have a way of contacting them if we had to go door to door,” said Brown.

Tybee City Police use a monthly luncheon at the YMCA complex to reach Tybee's older population, and address any new emergency plan updates.

"It's a lot on people. So we try to take that into account and if they need any assistance, the Tybee PD will help them off the island or arrange transport, or help contact their relatives and try to assist them off in a very safe manner,” said Chief Robert Bryson, Tybee Island PD.

The city is currently working to develop a newer version of an island-wide alert system from Everbridge, which notifies residents via email, phone and text.

"The new system now allows us to notify people of a lot more events. Many more kinds of events. And they can choose whether they get notified on cell phone, via text, at home, at the office, email,” said Michael Bodine, city technology support.

But Bodine said of the 3,000 or so on Tybee, they only have about 1,000 people subscribed through land lines, and five to 600 through cell phones.

"A lot of houses on Tybee don't have a landline's. They are all based on cell phones, and the last time, when Floyd was coming, cell phones all jammed up and you couldn't get a hold of anybody,” said Brown.

As the potential threat of a tropical storm lingers, city leaders are working to get everybody on the island up to speed on the warning systems and evacuation procedure if necessary.

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