Georgia governor declares state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence

Gov. Nathan Deal issues emergency declaration for all 159 counties

By Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor, Jonathan Drew, Associated Press

ATLANTA, Ga. - People who thought they were relatively safe from the onslaught of Hurricane Florence began boarding up and Georgia's governor declared a state of emergency Wednesday for all 159 counties in the state as uncertainty over the path of the monster storm spread worry along the Southeastern coast.

Closing in with terrifying winds of 125 mph and potentially catastrophic rain and storm surge, Florence is expected to blow ashore Saturday morning along the North Carolina-South Carolina line, the National Hurricane Center said.

While some of the computer forecasting models conflicted, the latest projections more or less showed the storm shifting southward and westward in a way that suddenly put more of South Carolina in danger and imperiled Georgia, too.

With the change in the forecast, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued an emergency declaration for the entire state to ease regulations on trucks hauling gasoline and relief supplies, and asked people to pray for those in Florence's path. North and South Carolina and Virginia declared emergencies earlier in the week.

No storm watches or warnings are in effect for Georgia, but forecasters warned that the monster storm could hesitate just offshore for days -- punishing a longer stretch of coastline harder than previously feared -- before pushing inland over the weekend.

Deal's emergency declaration cited potential "changes in the storm's trajectory" as well as an influx of evacuees coming to Georgia from the Carolinas. 

"The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Florence,” Deal said in a statement. “In light of the storm’s forecasted southward track after making landfall, I encourage Georgians to be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas. (Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency) continues to lead our preparedness efforts as we coordinate with federal, state and local officials to provide public shelter and accommodate those evacuating from other states. Finally, I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence.”

READ: Gov. Deal's executive order

In a videotaped message from the White House, President Donald Trump said the government is fully prepared for Florence but urged people to "get out of its way."

"Don't play games with it. It's a big one," he said.

Southeast Georgia monitoring Hurricane Florence

On Wednesday afternoon, Superintendent Jim Lebrun said the Ware County School System was working with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to monitor Hurricane Florence's track and its potential effect on the area.

Lebrun said the latest updates will be posted on the Ware County Schools Facebook page. The school district will also use One Call Now, its text/email/phone notification system, to alert the community to any changes affecting schools.

Camden County Board of Commissioners, Camden County Sheriff’s Office, and Camden County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) officials partnered with the cities of Kingsland, St. Marys, and Woodbine, along with Camden County Schools, Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay Emergency Management, and the National Weather Service to continue to determine potential impacts of Hurricane Florence on the community.  

Officials encouraged Camden County residents to monitor the forecast, as well as sign up for CodeRED Emergency Notification System by visiting www.camdencountyga.gov/CodeRED

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