Gov. Nathan Deal issued an emergency declaration for all 159 Georgia counties ahead of Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm threatening to pummel the Carolinas later this week.
The storm has been gaining strength over the last few days, and models predict a southward dip which could affect Georgia more directly than previously predicted.
“The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Florence,” said Deal in a news release. “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. GEMA/HS 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.”
The order lifts certain restrictions on drivers to allow for a continual flow of gasoline, and puts price gouging controls into effect.
The latest forecast advisories show the 130 mph storm making landfall early Friday in the Carolinas as a major hurricane but then taking a turn toward the southwest.
The actual track is expected to change as the Category 4 storm heads to the Southeast, but forecast models now indicate the storm could stall and bring more than 20 inches of rain to the North Carolina coast before the center of circulation sloshes toward Georgia early next week.
Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Peachtree City concluded early Wednesday that “there is some increased confidence for a wetter and windier period.”Most of Georgia is in the “cone of uncertainty” as Florence remained hundreds of miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, Wednesday afternoon.
The storm is expected to make landfall near the coastal borders North Carolina and South Carolina borders between Thursday evening and Friday before possibly affecting Georgia later in the weekend and week, according to Hurricane Center models.
The Carolinas have been buckling down for days and officials warned that the storm could be devastating. Massive evacuations were ordered from much of the South Carolina coast earlier this week. “Life threatening, catastrophic” flooding is likely in parts of the Carolinas later this week, according to the National Hurricane Center.
President Trump urged Georgians to “be ready, be prepared” as the storm crept closer Wednesday morning.
A year ago, Hurricane Irma had weakened to a tropical storm before drifting through central Georgia, but hours of strong wind gusts wreaked havoc on some middle Georgia neighborhoods before the weakening depression tracked through Columbus to Alabama and weakened further.