New safe shelter for severe weather to be built behind Tybee Island fire station

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 5:41 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Tybee Island is no stranger to severe weather events and soon they’ll have a shelter to house people who can’t evacuate.

The 4,600 square foot safe shelter will stand tall behind the fire station where firefighters currently train.

“It’ll be about 17 feet off the ground, about as high as the current fire station. Everything is very grade hurricane, wind proof.”

As Tybee experienced damage from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Tybee leaders have been working on a resiliency project to prepare for weather events led by project manager Alan Robertson.

He says it’s a $2.2 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and about $700,000 from the City of Tybee making this safe shelter possible.

“It’s designed to accommodate city staff and city council during storms so they can stay in place and manage things. It also will accommodate vulnerable communities. Since we have the Tybee Island Marine Academy, they can be here. The YMCA, they can be here, elderly folks,” said Alan Robertson, the project manager for Resiliency Tybee Initiatives.

Tybee Fire Chief Jeremy Kendrick says he’s happy to finally see this shelter that can hold up to 700 people come to fruition after four years.

He wants to remind the community that it’s still important to evacuate during hurricanes when alerted if you can. But, he says this safe shelter will also come in handy during tornadoes that aren’t as predictable.

“For hurricanes we’ve got plenty of planning time. We’re watching that storm for two or three weeks. We’re seeing what it will do and we start making decisions. We have time with that. With a tornado, we don’t. That’s where that shelter will also come in handy,” said Tybee Island Fire Chief Jeremy Kendrick.

They hope to break ground on the shelter this fall and expect it will be ready for use in mid 2025.