Gov. Deal addresses the state after Irma

Gov. Cooper: All regions of NC can expect to feel effect from Irma

Governor Nathan Deal has made a decision to expand the state of emergency to include all 159 counties in the state of Georgia, according to a press release.

In Chatham County, Georgia's most populous coastal county that includes Savannah, emergency management director Dennis Jones warned Irma could bash the coast with 15 feet of storm surge and force floodwaters up the Savannah and Ogechee Rivers, potentially swamping 60 percent of the county. A total of 94 counties are now included.

"This is a rapidly moving hurricane and the weather and the consequences of that hurricane can change dramatically within a short period of time", Deal said.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency website. This makes it easier to know where down power lines may be possible following the storm.

The former hurricane remained an huge, 668km wide storm as its centre moved on from Florida on Monday afternoon, giving its still-formidable gusts and drenching rains a far reach. "There are so many variables associated with where the storm can go".

Deal also issued an executive order authorizing 5,000 National Guard personnel to be mobilized on state active duty for response and recovery operations from Hurricane Irma. There will be seven available exits.

The tidal surge sent damaged boats rushing more than three blocks onto downtown streets in St. Marys, just north of the Georgia-Florida state line, St. Marys Police Lt. Shannon Brock said.

"People don't like to leave their homes and businesses, and as little as they like leaving them, they want to get back to them immediately", McMaster said.

►LINK: Are you under a mandatory Hurricane Irma evacuation? We will do so as the situation dictates. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama also waived restrictions on the number of hours that fuel-truck drivers can be on the road.

"Please heed the advice of Florida", GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said. All highway work and lane closures have been suspended to help speed the evacuations from other states.

Traffic was already heavy on Interstate 75 to Atlanta by Thursday afternoon with evacuees streaming out of Florida.

But even then, people may be out of luck.

All residential halls at Savannah State University will close no later than Saturday morning and the entire campus will close at noon Saturday, officials told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Jill Nolin covers the Georgia Statehouse for The Valdosta Daily Times and CNHI's newspapers and websites. He recommends people contact hotel chain offices, rather than specific locations, to locate vacancies system-wide.

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