SAVANNAH, Ga. — The Latest on preparations in Georgia for Hurricane Irma (all times local):
An emergency manager on Georgia’s coast says first responders and critical personnel will likely evacuate inland if Hurricane Irma threatens the area as a major hurricane.
Dennis Jones is emergency management director for Chatham County, coastal Georgia’s most populous county. Jones told a news conference Wednesday in Savannah that it’s possible Irma could strike the Georgia coast early next week as a powerful Category 3 or 4 hurricane.
Jones says if that threat becomes imminent, the county would probably move its emergency operations for the hurricane 60 miles (96 kilometers) west to Statesboro. That’s because “we don’t have a sturdy enough facility to support a major category storm.”
Jones said a decision on whether to order evacuations in the Savannah area could come as early as Friday.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency in the state’s six coastal counties ahead of menacing Hurricane Irma.
Deal said Wednesday his emergency order ensures aid for communities along Georgia’s 100-mile (160-kilometer) coastline, prohibits price gouging for fuel and other goods and services. It also relaxes regulations on trucking to allow increased deliveries of storm relief supplies.
Irma roared through the Caribbean with powerful 185-mph winds Wednesday on its way toward southern Florida. Emergency managers in Georgia said tropical storm force winds could reach the state over the weekend. No evacuations were ordered as great uncertainty remained about the hurricane’s precise path.
Coastal Georgia evacuated last October in a brush with Hurricane Matthew, which killed three people and left widespread damage without making landfall in the state.