Snow, icy roads keep Tybee Island residents from getting home

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The island areas of Chatham County had a rough start to the day Wednesday as the wintry mix of weather moved in, closing bridges and some roads, and causing some bad crashes.

For those staying home taking in the sights, the flakes piling up and icicles hanging from any surface that would collect water brought about some nostalgia.

"It's awesome. It's nice to see. I don't remember seeing anything like this since 1989. It's just fun. I just hope everybody stays in and stays safe," said Savannah native, Vaughn Coleman.

One of the longest closures has been the Bull River Bridge and Highway 80 connecting Tybee Island with the rest of the county. It's the re-freezing of the roadway with all of the accumulated snow and freezing rain that has left this stretch treacherous and off-limits to anyone who is not a first responder. Road crews treated this stretch of Highway 80 once already Wednesday, but it didn't last.

For those trying to return home to Tybee Island, they had to wait for hours until a GDOT crew working from one end of the county to the other cleared a path on the Bull River Bridge and beyond. Those who understood how bad conditions really were, were fine with waiting.

"Coming back in this morning, a lot of ice. Bridges were really, ice, really slippery," said Tim Garrick, who couldn't get back to Tybee. "It's just so dangerous because the bridges and slick as they hit a patch of ice and there's no telling where you're gonna wind up."

For hours, people trying to get back onto Tybee sat in their cars, a line about a dozen or so deep at any given point, all waiting for police to reopen the road.

The ones who did venture out, either driving or walking, made it a much larger than usual volume call for first responders.

"We've had a high spike in calls. There's been a lot of vehicle accidents, single-vehicle accidents, cars spinning out on bridges, cars leaving the road and hitting trees, overturning," said Chuck Kearns, Chief/CEO, Chatham Emergency Services.

One driver of an SUV was trapped along Jonny Mercer Boulevard Wednesday morning, and the engine was on fire before emergency crews could get to her.

"We pull up, and luckily enough, there was no fire at the time, and we actually had a bystander on scene come up and tell us that there was a fire, and he actually put it out with a few bottles of water, which was very helpful. I told him thanks a lot, that he may have saved it," said Aldo Graniello, Chatham Emergency Services.

The driver had some minor injuries but is expected to recover.

With road conditions staying bad overnight and into the early morning hours, emergency crews are urging you again to stay home unless you absolutely have to be out.

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