At a post-storm debriefing today at City Hall, the Mayor and Council all had high praise for City Manager Rob Hernandez and all CEMA and City staff involved with Hurricane Irma first response. But there were a few criticisms and concerns.
Alderman Tony Thomas, while having general praise for Georgia Power workers, had issues with how the company is handling area outages.
Thomas said his Southside district still has 800 homes without power.
"I reached out to Georgia Power yesterday because I'm getting so many calls about power still being out. The explanation I got didn't set well with me," Thomas said, stating that Georgia Power isn't responding to the areas with the most total power outages as he was assured.
Alderman Durrence said, "Things went much more smoothly this year than last year" but still has concerns about the medical registry not being maintained and considered for the benefit of those with evacuation assistance needs.
"All this stuff needs to be done long before we have a storm," Durrence said.
Council members were informed that only an estimated 15-20 percent of City of Savannah residents evacuated.
Alderman Van Johnson said, "The issue of poverty becomes more potent" when you see people leaving with everything they own in a plastic bag. "They left with nothing, and they came back with nothing."
Johnson also said "We complain about the media all the time, but the fact is they really helped get the word out" about evacuation and storm preparedness.
Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Chief Lumpkin said "we did have some burglaries" during the evacuation period but the rate was "much lower" than during Hurricane Matthew, approximately 70 percent lower.
City Manager Hernandez said one of the big problems he and CEMA faced were rumors, spread mostly on social media.
One of the rumors from Hurricane Irma was that first responders weren't being fed, he said, and another was that water was required to be boiled due to contamination.
"At no time" was either of those things true, Hernandez said, adding that "I don't know how those rumors get started but they get started."
Hernandez urged citizens and businesses to utilize the 311 system of calling in reports of storm damage and questions about City services.
Hernandez also said he'd like to reward critical work force personnel with an additional day off.