ATLANTA — The Latest on how the Southeast states are preparing for Hurricane Irma (all times local):
When Samantha Ramirez started stocking up on items in preparation of Hurricane Irma, she ran into a constant major problem: Finding water.
After hearing about Atlanta’s first-ever tropical storm warning on Sunday, Ramirez scurried to the grocery stores only to find that three locations didn’t have any water. Her struggle to find water made her realize that this storm could be a real issue despite living in Hiram, Georgia, which about 20 miles north of downtown Atlanta where her job is located.
“I didn’t think it was going to be this bad,” said Ramirez, 32, who works at a marketing agency. “There were no bottle waters at all. I noticed that my neighbors just went to the gas station and they brought back a bunch of containers. They stocking up with gasoline. It seems like people are starting to get more frightened.”
Ramirez is working remotely from home Monday under job’s orders. She’ll be home with her 10-year-old son whose school will be closed the first day of the week.
If need be, Ramirez said she and her son will be ready to hunker down in their home if Irma causes any problems in her area. She was able to stock up on water and food, but her only concerns are the powerlines and trees above her home.
There are so many electric and powerlines and so many trees out here by our house,” she said. “I’m just a little concerned for the trees and powerlines to go out. We’re charging our phones and computers. We’re just kind of stocking up. We have plenty of food, water that we finally found. We’re going to stay home and see what happens.”
Mayor Kasim Reed says strong winds have torn tile and debris off a building facade on a popular street in downtown Atlanta.
Reed said in news conference Sunday that some road have been closed after tile fell from a 32-story building on Peachtree Street. The mayor says he expects winds to grow stronger over the night and could experience down powerlines and trees throughout the city.
Reed says preparations for the storm have been ongoing for the past four days. He’s urging residents to store items such as trashcans or outside furniture or equipment inside their homes.
“Don’t be fooled that this storm cannot hurt you. Don’t go out and play in it,” he said. “We urge everyone to stay indoors and stay safe as we make through this challenging moment.”
The mayor says the Atlanta Streetcar has been closed as a preventive measure so the lines that power the train will not fall.
Reed says the Red Cross and recreations will be open for those seeking shelter from the storm. The Salvation Army will assist with any homeless people who are also seeking shelter.
Several school systems in metro Atlanta have closed a day before Hurricane Irma is expected to cross over into coastal Georgia.
Local news media reports that schools in the metro Atlanta area, Georgia State University and the University of Georgia have cancelled classes Monday. Some counties including Cobb, Henry and DeKalb will be closed Monday and Tuesday.
Georgia Tech officials say the campus will remain open as they are monitoring the storm’s progress. Classes in Savannah have been cancelled for the entire week.
Storm conditions are being monitored at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Airport spokesman Andrew Gobeil says the airport will remain open. He says the airport is working the Federal Aviation Administration.
Gobeil says the airport is basing their monitoring on aircraft type, wind speed and wind craft direction — which is the most important. He says the final decision will be made by the pilot.
Georgia’s governor has declared an emergency for the entire state as Hurricane Irma’s approach triggers widespread severe weather threats, including the first-ever tropical storm warning for Atlanta.
Gov. Nathan Deal’s new emergency declaration came Sunday as Irma churned near Florida. The National Hurricane Center predicted the storm’s center to cross Monday into southwest Georgia, where a hurricane warning was issued for communities including Albany and Valdosta.
Portions of western Alabama and coastal South Carolina were also under tropical storm warnings.
The National Weather Service confirmed it had never before issued a tropical storm warning for Atlanta, where wind gusts could reach 55 mph (88 kph). Meanwhile Savannah and the rest of coastal Georgia were under evacuation orders for the second time since Hurricane Matthew brushed the region last October.