– August 30, 2023 –
Good morning. We’re in for a windy, wet Wednesday unless Hurricane Idalia has taken an unexpected turn. As you hunker down, we have a story about a different sort of deluge that’s changing the landscape of Coastal Georgia — the proliferation of warehouses. Keep an eye on Idalia and stay safe.
Bracing for Idalia
Coastal Georgians know how to pronounce Vidalia with a long “i,” so it might come as a surprise that Hurricane Idalia doesn’t rhyme. It’s pronounced “ee-DAHL-yuh.” Any way you say it, though, we’re about to get an up-close introduction. The entire Georgia coast is under a hurricane watch, a tropical storm warning and a storm surge watch as of 11 p.m. Tuesday. Rain and tropical storm force winds are expected all along the coast today, with coastal flooding from storm surge nearly guaranteed. It’s not looking to be as bad as 2016’s Matthew or 2017’s Irma, but Idalia is still a storm to take seriously. To help readers stay on top of it, The Current’s Mary Landers gathered a list of reliable web sites and social media links with local information on tropical weather and emergency planning.
The coast is awash in warehouses
Drive just about anywhere in Coastal Georgia, but especially near a major highway, and you’re likely to see a newly built warehouse or one under construction. The total acreage of warehouse cover in the Savannah area alone is equal to more than 2,000 football fields, writes The Current’s Kailey Cota. With warehouse growth tied to the growth of the Savannah port, economists like UGA’s Jeff Humphreys see few downsides to the boom. But the neighbors who have seen their communities ripped apart disagree. And counties are not making a case to their residents about how warehouses are affecting their tax base. As the landscape morphs from wetlands and farmland to buildings and blacktop, environmentalists warn the consequences will extend beyond the warehouses’ closest neighbors.
Volunteers clean the beach
Volunteers with the Savannah-based nonprofit Clean Coast spent Sunday doing what they do best: picking up trash on a barrier island beach, as The Current’s Mary Landers reports. Their destination for this month’s cleanup was Wassaw Island. Next month it’s Ossabaw. Boat captains volunteer their time and their boats to ferry other volunteers to barrier islands or marshes, mostly in the Savannah area. The trips are free to volunteers, though a donation is suggested. Clean Coast provides an inexpensive way to spend a day on a remote beach while doing good with like-minded people, said volunteer Ruth Goldstein.
“Every time I pick up a balloon or a plastic bag I feel like I’m saving a turtle,” she said.
Ga. farmers look to citrus
The Peach State is becoming more of a citrus state, thanks in part to the warmer winters that climate change is producing, writes Emily Jones of WABE/Grist. Citrus, especially small, easy-to-peel fruits like the tango and satsuma are a growing business in Georgia. More of a backyard curiosity as recently as 2010, citrus is now commercially grown in 45 Georgia counties, extending as far north as Screven County on the South Carolina line. Georgia farmers have planted more than half a million citrus trees, most of them in the last five years.
“We have a piece of fruit that looks like it’s grown in California, but tastes like it’s grown in Florida, which is what everybody wants,” Albany-area Farmer Justin Jones said.
Editor’s note: Last week’s Coast Watch newsletter misstated Chantal Audran’s title. She is the executive director of the Tybee Island Marine Science Center.
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Hundreds of new warehouses are changing large swaths of Coastal Georgia’s landscape. At least 100 million square feet of warehouse space has been built in Chatham, Bryan, Effingham, Liberty and Jasper counties to support the Port of Savannah’s booming business.
The freeze was a big test for Georgia’s burgeoning citrus industry, which is taking root thanks to the combined forces of climate change, crop science and disease in Florida. There were very few citrus trees in Georgia a decade ago. Now, there are more than 500,000 trees across nearly 4,000 acres. Those farmers […]
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