Last Wednesday, 5 October, the finishing touches were being put on the weekly Jekyll Island Lions Club blog when we received the voluntary order to evacuate given Hurricane Matthew’s approach towards the United States. Jekyll is a barrier island along Georgia’s coast and Matthew’s track looked ominous indeed. Many residents left upon receiving the voluntary order. The next day, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for all of Glynn County, including Jekyll Island. Almost everyone left.
Jekyll Island mainly relies on Glynn County when it comes to emergency preparedness plans. Having said that, Jekyll Island is a state park and enjoys a large measure of autonomy. The island’s Public Safety Director has come to Jekyll Island Lions Club meetings in the past to discuss safety issues and emergency preparedness, including hurricanes. In exchange, the Club has volunteered to assist him with two safety-related projects.
Last year, the Lions went door-to-door carrying brochures to remind residents that emergency service personnel needed to be able to see their house numbers from the street. If, for example, an ambulance had to drive up and down a street searching for an address, valuable time could be lost. Conspicuous house number signs might even save a life. The Lions also provided an option for residents to purchase from the Club cast iron reflective house numbers for display near the street. In conjunction with the house numbers initiative, the Lions passed out home smoke and carbon monoxide detector information.
Later in the year, the Lions Club helped to identify residents who might require assistance in the event of a mandatory evacuation, such as the approach of a hurricane like Matthew. Those residents requiring assistance would be transported to a Red Cross shelter on the mainland.
Outside of that direct cooperation, the Lions Club includes a hurricane preparedness page in the Jekyll Island telephone book that it publishes and sells.
So, how did the island fare in the face of Hurricane Matthew’s assault? Not badly…there was no flooding although many trees came down, a few on top of homes. Most of the power was restored and the streets were cleared of debris in two days. Residents were allowed back on the island Monday, 10 October. And as you could guess, the President of the Club contacted fellow Lions offering to help them clean up. That’s what Lions do.