SAVANNAH, Ga. — Businesses on the Georgia coast planned to salvage a profitable Labor Day weekend following the passage of Tropical Storm Hermine, which scared away some holiday travelers but left little notable damage and sunny skies in its wake.
Hermine crossed southeast Georgia on Friday, when many tourists had plans to arrive on the coast for a final summer weekend. Some ended up cancelling their reservations altogether, said Joe Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah, the city’s tourism bureau. But others either braved the roads despite the weather or pushed back travel plans until Saturday.
“We definitely saw some cancellations, mostly because of travel conditions, but it was more of a small chunk,” Marinelli said Saturday. “When people turned on the five-day forecast and could see Saturday, Sunday and Monday were going to be all sunshine, I think that saved us a bit.”
Around 23,500 customers are still without power in the Savannah and coastal, Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins said Saturday. He said more than 3,000 Georgia Power crew members were fixing damage from fallen trees and electrical lines. The utility company said Chatham County has the most power outages compared to other neighboring counties with more than 20,000.
Around 26,000 customers are without power statewide.
Labor Day has become a big tourism draw for Savannah, with hotels often reporting 90 percent occupancy for the weekend, Marinelli said. Events this weekend center around beer and bacon, though organizers had to adjust their plans slightly.
The Savannah Craft Brew Fest that opened Saturday moved all of its beer tents indoors because the storm prohibited advance setup outside Friday. And Bacon Fest on the downtown riverfront had to cancel events scheduled for Friday but was back on for the weekend.
Big crowds were also expected on neighboring Tybee Island, which throws a Labor Day beach party Sunday that ends with a fireworks display.
Amy Gaster, owner of Tybee Vacation Rentals, said her company’s 230 condos and beach homes had been all booked for the holiday weekend and only a few guests ended up cancelling. She said renters with reservations starting Friday were allowed to adjust their plans and check-in a day late on Saturday to ensure they missed the storm.
“The message we were putting out there was we’re willing to be flexible with your arrival time,” Gaster said. “We were more concerned about what people would be driving through to get to us rather than what they would find when they got here.”
Landrum reported from Atlanta.