Water splashing against sea wall

When a hurricane hits, swirling winds can push water ashore, causing dangerous storm surge.

“Water is a force of nature and it will take a home off its foundation,” says Jay Wiggins, director of Glynn County, Georgia’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.

He says coastal residents often underestimate the threat. “I think a lot of people will say, you know, I’ve lived here for this amount of time and it’s never flooded in this area,” he says.

But with a storm surge, water can inundate unexpected places, especially as sea levels rise.

“We want people to know that they need to get out of the way of that water,” Wiggins says, “because there will be downed power lines in that water. There will be animals that they may not have seen or dealt with before … alligators, snakes. Fire ants get pushed by water, ahead of it, and they tend to group together into a ball of fire ants and wash into people’s homes. So there are things that are caused by the water that you don’t normally think of that can be a problem for you.”

And if you need help, emergency services may be overwhelmed or unable to reach you.

“We say this to educate not to scare people, but once we start seeing wind speeds of 45 miles per hour and plus, we’re going to have to stop sending public safety out,” Wiggins says.

So he says people should take the risk of storm surge seriously and evacuate when told to do so.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.