Irma: Recovery Continues; 580k Without Power In Georgia

Sep 11, 2017

9/13/17 9:48 a.m.

The number of power outages continues to drop in Georgia after the remnants of Hurricane Irma stormed through the state, claiming at least two lives.

Less than 600,000 Georgia Power and Electric Member Corp. customers are still without power early Wednesday morning. The utility companies said they are continuing to assess damage as power is restored.

The utility companies said repairs and replacement of downed powerlines could take several days.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal lifted an evacuation order Tuesday for nearly 540,000 coastal residents. He cautioned that recovery could take longer because the storm affected the entire state.

A man was killed when a tree toppled on his house in Sandy Springs, Georgia. The 67-year-old Nancy Eason died after a tree fell on a vehicle in which she was riding in Forsyth County.

Coastal Georgia residents face starting all over with repairs after Tropical Storm Irma flooded communities struck by Hurricane Matthew less than a year ago. Matthew caused $500 million in damage when it raked coastal Georgia last October. Irma caused extensive flooding along Georgia's 100 miles of coast. Portions of coastal South Carolina flooded as well. Irma claimed two lives in Georgia and three in South Carolina.

As the remnants of Hurricane Irma move inland, Floridians are beginning the process of returning to a battered, water-logged state. But many more are staying put, unsure of a gasoline supplies and the prospects of returning to home without power. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is still encouraging residents to be cautious about returning.

9/12/17 2:48 p.m.

Latest update from Georgia Power

Power to 270,000 of our customers has been restored following Hurricane Irma.

Approximately 680,000 customers are without power across Georgia.

We encourage our customers to plan ahead for the potential for extended outages, which possibly could last days or weeks, due to the vast damage from the storm.

Regional and statewide restoration estimates will be available as soon as assessment is completed.

There are more than 9,600 cases of individual damage or trouble (including broken poles and lines) that our crews are working to repair.

9/12/17 2:37 p.m.

As Irma clean up begins in Augusta, plans are underway to repatriate the medical patients transported to the area to get out of areas more severely affected.

Augusta University Medical Center received more than 100 hurricane effected patients, including more than a dozen needing neo-natal intensive care. 

According to Dr. Phillip Coule, the facility’s Associate Chief Medical Officer, the process of getting them back to their local facilities involves a few approvals. First from the local emergency management authorities, and, of course, the physicians actually caring for the patients weigh in. The moves themselves use various forms of transportation.

“Some will go back by specialized ground transport.  Some will go back by helicopter, potentially even airplane back to the Savannah area,” Coule said.

Each patient is accompanied by a specialized care team. Coule says the transport process should begin this afternoon, with no idea how long it will take.

Camden County Emergency Management Officials are requesting that motorists traveling along I-95 do not stop in Camden County because there are no driver services available due to Hurricane Irma.

9/12/17 2:26 p.m.

Governor Nathan Deal has lifted the mandatory evacuation order for coastal Georgia.

However, state officials urge residents and evacuees to wait for local emergency managers to authorize re-entry to evacuated areas.

Once re-entry begins, please travel interstates and US highways, which are cleared before state and county roads.

The state of emergency still applies to all counties in Georgia.

TRAFFIC

The Georgia Department of Transportation says all interstates and major state routes are cleared and passable.

Fuel outages are being reported throughout the state.

In addition to difficulty resupplying due to the storm, stations in South Georgia are reporting power outages and flooding of their tanks.  

Access to fuel will not be guaranteed if residents and evacuees choose to travel south.

State officials also expect heavier-than-usual traffic over the next few days. To help accommodate return trips, G-DOT has extended lane closure restrictions until Thursday.

SHELTERS

A number of Red Cross shelters are still open around the state. Updated shelter information can be found on GEMA’s website.

9/12/17 12:43 p.m.

Press release from Gov. Nathan Deal

Deal lifts mandatory evacuation order for six coastal counties

Following state bridge inspections, local officials now able to determine reentry

Acting on a recommendation from the Emergency Operations Command and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), Gov. Nathan Deal today lifted the mandatory evacuation order for six coastal counties. Beginning Monday evening through today, GDOT assessment teams deployed in the area completed safety inspections of 49 impacted state bridges. Following the safety determination of each bridge, the state lifted the mandatory evacuation order. This executive order allows local authorities to determine when citizens may return home and issue appropriate guidance.

9/12/17 12:37 p.m.

Latest update from MARTA

MARTA RAIL, MOBILITY SERVICE UP AND RUNNING 

Bus Service Experiencing Delays Due to Road Closures, Fallen Trees 

ATLANTA—The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) resumed all transit service on Tuesday, Sept. 12, ahead of the morning commute with limited operations. Rail and Mobility services are currently running on the standard weekday schedule. With extensive road closures throughout metro Atlanta, MARTA bus service has been greatly affected across the service area.  

Bus routes currently not in operation, or are experiencing roadway difficulties, include Routes  2, 8, 16, 19, 24, 27, 55, 67, 71, 81, 82, 84, 93, 95, 117, 121, 125, 126, 170, 172, 178, 181 and 183. Multiple roadways across metropolitan Atlanta are impassable due to post storm conditions, including downed trees and power lines, forcing bus operators to find alternate routes. 

Bus routes that are currently in operation are Routes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 15, 21, 30, 32, 33, 36, 37, 39, 47, 49, 50, 51, 53, 56, 58, 60, 66, 68, 73, 74, 75, 78, 79, 86, 87, 89, 99, 107, 110, 111, 114, 115, 116, 119, 120, 123, 140, 141, 143, 148, 153, 155, 162, 180, 185/85, 186, 189, 191, 193, 194, 195, 196, 201, 800, 823 and 865. Some routes may experience delays due to mandatory re-routes caused by road conditions. 

All Clayton County bus routes are clear and in operation.   

“We are continuously monitoring weather and road conditions,” said MARTA GM/CEO Keith Parker. “We are working to phase in Tuesday's bus service so we can safely get our customers to their destinations. Many of our routes are blocked or unsafe for travel. We are asking our customers to bear with us as we work to increase service as roadways reopen."  

Additionally, MARTA will provide all current, registered Breeze Card, pass holders with a one-day credit to as reimbursement for Monday’s service suspension.  

For real-time updates, follow @MARTAService on Twitter, visit www.itsmarta.com or call customer service at 404-848-5000.  

9/12/17 10:39 a.m.

Statement from Georgia Power  Hurricane Irma has severely impacted service to Georgia Power customers across the state. Georgia Power has been monitoring outages throughout the night and early morning.  As the weather clears the 5500 field personnel consisting of Georgia Power and assisting utility crews will continue damage assessment and service restoration efforts. As of 10 a.m. there are over 787,000 customers without power. The large number of outages presents a significant challenge, but crews will work hard to restore power as soon as possible.  Restoration efforts may take several days, if not weeks, to complete. Georgia Power will continue to closely monitor the restoration efforts and provide regular updates. Do not touch downed or low hanging wires, including Cable TV as they could be in contact with power lines.  Never pull tree limbs off power lines yourself or enter areas of debris, where downed power lines may be buried within the wreckage. If you observe downed power lines contact Georgia Power at 1-888-891-0938 or call 911. 

Georgia Power encourages customers to stay safe and informed during the Hurricane Irma restoration efforts. Please visit www.georgiapower.com/storm for further outage and restoration information, to sign up for Outage Alerts, report and check on the status of outages, and to access useful safety information.  Follow @GeorgiaPower on Twitter for storm tips, outage updates, customer service and more. Customers can report further outages and check the status of existing outage 24 hours a day by contacting Georgia Power at 888-891-0938.

9/12/17 10:01 a.m.

As of early morning Tuesday, Georgia Power reported more than 800,000  customers without power.

Chatham County evacuees are waiting to learn when they can return home. As the worst of the storm started winding down, crews hit the roads to assess the damage. Early reports show less debris than after Hurricane Matthew last year - but more flooding.

Emergency management director Dennis Jones says there's a lot of work to do.

"Before we let the general population back in, we've got to make sure that the area's safe, and we've also gotta make sure that we have a minimum level of services to support the general population," Jones said.

Officials say they plan to let people return in phases once it's safe.

Many people were frustrated and confused by the re-entry process after Matthew.

Storm surge reached nearly 12 feet at Fort Pulaski near Savannah. Joel Cadoff is a ranger at the national monument. He says it’s the third highest surge on record.

“We’ve gone through a cycle of decades where we didn’t have storms that caused a tremendous amount of damage,” Cadoff said. “All we have to do is look historically, the 1880s and 1890s there were a number of hurricanes, including the sea islands hurricane in 1893 that were just devastating to the area – not only fort Pulaski.”

Cadoff says they hope to have staff on site Tuesday to assess the site.

Damage from Hurricane Matthew and a tornado earlier this year closed the fort for weeks and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

The only road onto Tybee Island will stay closed until the Department of Transportation can inspect the bridges.

As expected, Highway 80 flooded at high tide, around midday.

That tide was not as high as predicted – or as bad as Hurricane Matthew. But Mayor Jason Buelterman says flooding is a different story.

“It's significantly worse than we had during Matthew. And if that's the case for Tybee, that's gonna be the case for many low-lying areas of Chatham County, especially on the islands,” Buelterman said.

He says the worst of the storm hit right at high tide.

The county's director of emergency management says crews are just starting to assess the damage - but it does appear Irma has left more flooding but less debris than Matthew did.

Many people in Brunswick and surrounding Glynn County are under a strict water conservation plan because of significant power losses.

The area's Joint Water Sewer Commission has ordered customers not to shower, to avoid flushing toilets, and to limit sink use.

County Commission Chair Bill Brunson says it wasn't safe for recovery crews to work for much of the day – and they likely can't keep working overnight.

“It's gonna take a while for people to have water and sewage back, and of course there're trees down and that's power, so Georgia Power is out there trying to get power restored,” Brunson said.

Much of Glynn and neighboring Camden Counties saw significant flooding as well.

Glynn has banned re-entry until further notice.

In Macon, Bibb County officials want people to know their drinking water is safe. Rumors that Hurricane Irma has somehow tainted the water supply have been making the rounds on social media. County spokesperson Chris Floore says the Macon Water Authority tells him it isn’t true.

“They’re saying there’s no issues with the water. They are monitoring it. And if there are issues with the water they will notify the public directly,” Floore said.

The Macon Water Authority provides water to about 155,000 people in Middle Georgia.

The AJC reports that three Georgia deaths were related to the storm:

A 55-year-old Sandy Springs man who was crushed by a tree that fell on his home as he slept, a South Georgia man who was swept off his roof by high winds, and a woman killed when a tree fell on a vehicle in a Forsyth County driveway.

9/12/17 9:49 a.m.

The state of emergency still applies to all counties in Georgia. State government offices will be closed today except for essential personnel.

The mandatory evacuation order is still in place for all of Zone A throughout coastal Georgia.

All evacuees are urged not to return to evacuated areas until it’s recommended by local authorities.

State officials are working on a re-entry plan for the area.

The first phase of re-entry is not meant for the general public. It is for emergency personnel to clear roadways, inspect bridges, and do necessary repairs to ensure it’s safe for the general population to re-enter.  

Once re-entry begins, please travel interstates and US highways. They are cleared before state and county roads.

SHELTERS

The American Red Cross has a number of shelters open around the state.

In Albany, the Albany Civic Center is open.

In Atlanta, the Central Park Recreation Center is open.

In Augusta, the Academy of Richmond County, Butler High School, Glenn Hills High School, Glenn Hills Middle School, Trinity on the Hill, Westside High School, Cross Creek High School, the Warren Road Community Center are open.

In Byron, Peach Fire Station Number 1 is open.

In Cartersville, the Church at Liberty Square is open.

In Columbus, the Columbus Civic Center Ice Arena and the Frank Chester Recreation Center are open.

In Cordele, Blackshear Trail Elementary School is open.

In Cuthbert, the First Baptist Church of Cuthbert is open.

In Dublin, Dublin High School, East Laurens High School, and East Laurens Middle School are open.

In Fort Valley, Peach Fire Station Number 6 is open.

In Gainesville, the First Baptist Church of Gainesville is open.

In Grovetown, Liberty Park Community Center and Patriots Park are open.

In Hepzibah, Pine Hill Middle School and Spirit Creek Middle School are open.

In Miller, the Colquitt Freewill Baptist Church is open.

In Macon, East Macon Park, Macon Memorial Gymnasium, the North Macon Park Community Center, the Rosa Jackson Recreation Center are open.

In Preston, Webster County Community Center is open.

In Waycross, Ware County High School, and Waycross Middle School is open.

For a list of good samaritan shelters, contact your local emergency management agency or visit GEMA’s website.

State officials urge residents and evacuees to wait for local authorities to recommend re-entry to evacuated areas.

9/11/17 7:19 p.m.

As Tropical Storm Irma continues, Governor Nathan Deal has expanded the state of emergency to include all counties in Georgia. State government offices will be closed Monday and Tuesday except for essential personnel.

High winds are expected to generate debris that will impact roadways. GEMA encourages people not to drive unless in an emergency.

High winds could also bring down power lines. Always assume a downed power line is live and life-threatening.

If you see a downed line, call Georgia Power at 1-888-891-0938 or your police or fire department to have the downed line barricaded until it can be repaired.

Be aware that heavy rain could cause localized flooding. It is never safe to drive or walk into floodwaters.

The National Weather Service says 6 inches of fast-moving floodwater can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.

Residents and evacuees should shelter in place as the storm passes. It will be unsafe to remain in your vehicle in parking lots or on roadsides.

9/11/17 2:19 p.m.

Latest update from the National Hurricane Center. Heavy rain and high winds expected into the night.
Credit NOAA

9/11/17 11:47 a.m.

Much of the Georgia coastline, including Savannah, Brunswick, Tybee Island and Ossabaw Island, is currently under a Storm Surge Warning from the National Weather Service. Surges of 4-6 feet are possible in these areas. With surges on top of high tides, which will occur this afternoon from around 12:30 to 1:30, record water levels are expected.

Fifteen cities and counties across South Georgia have issued curfews.

These cities and counties are Bainbridge, Ben Hill County, Calhoun County, Coffee County, Colquitt County, Dawson, Doerun, Early County, Lee County, Lowndes County, Moultrie, Pelham, Randolph County, Turner County and Worth County.

The curfews range from Sunday morning until Monday night, while some last until Tuesday.

Multiple homes in Lowndes County have been damaged by fallen trees.

Coffee County has several downed power lines and trees crossing over major highways including Highway 135 south, Highway 441 South, and 151 South. There are also many buildings effected by downed trees.

Albany city offices and Municipal Court will be closed Monday as well as the offices of non-essential personnel at the Coffee County Courthouse and the City of Douglas and the city of Tifton offices, with the exception of Public Safety and Public Works departments.

Dougherty County officials have recommended that all non-essential service businesses should shut down & release employees for safe travels home by 3 p.m., 5 p.m. at the very latest.

9/11/17 10:47 a.m.

Governor Nathan Deal says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has recognized his statewide emergency order and FEMA personnel are already on the ground here.  

Deal says the president contacted him over the weekend and said the federal government will be ready to help Georgia after the storm passes.

“It is certainly one of those circumstances where we are going to need federal assistance if the storm is of the magnitude that we expect it to be,” said Deal.

Earlier this year, the state received millions in FEMA grants after a series of tornadoes killed 16 people in South Georgia.

There’s rain across the Atlanta metro area right now — but the roughest weather is expected to hit the city this afternoon with wind gusts over 50 miles per hour are expected. Mayor Kasim Reed says all departments are on high alert.

Atlanta Police closed multiple downtown streets yesterday afternoon after a metal panel was blown off the building at 34 Peachtree St. NW. 11Alive reports this morning that ten more panels on the building are at risk of falling. With wind gusts of 50-60 miles per hour possible today, police have barricaded the surrounding area from pedestrian and car traffic and have not yet announced a reopening time.

The closed area is in the Five Points neighborhood of downtown and includes Peachtree Street, Edgewood Avenue and Marietta Street as well as Woodruff Park.   

The 32-story building is home to commercial offices and was completed in 1961.

City offices are closed today and MARTA is suspending all bus and rail services. The Atlanta streetcar system is also closed. 

"Let me emphasize that our information is being constantly updated, that we are using the resources at Hartsfield Jackson Airport to monitor weather conditions in partnership with Delta Airlines and others," Reed said Sunday afternoon.

Officials at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are monitoring storm conditions ahead of Hurricane Irma.

Airport spokesman Andrew Gobeil says the airport will remain open.

According to WSB, Delta has already cancelled over 100 connecting flights to Atlanta. (8 am)

Gobeil says the airport is basing their monitoring on aircraft type, wind speed and wind craft direction — which is the most important.

He said the final decision will be made by the pilot.

A curfew has been put in place by officials from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and Valdosta Police Department as of 9 a.m. this morning. People are being warned to stay home.

The Savannah River is expected to feel the impact of Tropical Storm Irma in the days ahead.

Heavy Rains and high winds began to build before dawn in Augusta today. Forecasts call for 5 to 7 inches of rain and tropical storm force winds between now and midday Tuesday.  Storms of this magnitude impact the Savannah River, as Savannah River Keeper Tonya Bonitatibus explained.

“So the good news is that this should put a good couple of feet back into the lakes, which is a big deal for us.  We’re in the middle of a drought. “

But, there’s some not-so-good-news as well.

“There’s going to be a lot of trees and debris in it too, which will make it dangerous to pass,” Bonitatibus said.

Bonitatibus, who recently returned from Houston, cautioned that items washed out of homes and other structures by flood waters can also end up in the river, posing significant, navigational, recreational and environmental hazards.

Almost five million Floridians are without power this morning as the state’s recovery from Hurricane Irma begins. The majority of outages reported by Florida Power & Light are in Brevard, Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.

As of 9:30 a.m. Monday morning, over 400,00 Georgians are without power. More than 100,000 of those customers are along the Georgia coast. There are also widespread outages in South Georgia and in the Rutland/Warner Robins area.

Coastal officials are getting ready to clean up once Hurricane Irma moves out of Georgia.

Chatham County Emergency Management Director Dennis Jones says they'll get some help from the state Department of Defense, which includes the National Guard.

“We will not have the amount that we had during Matthew; I'm not so sure that we would need that amount. But we do have limited resources from the DOD, and again they are stretched to respond throughout the state.,” said Jones.

Georgia Power says crews are standing by to restore electricity. But all those efforts will have to wait until it's safe.

As long as tropical storm force winds continue, recovery teams will stay off the road.

9/11/17 10:10 a.m.

As Tropical Storm Irma continues, Governor Nathan Deal has expanded the state of emergency to include all counties in Georgia. State government offices will be closed Monday and Tuesday except for essential personnel.

High winds are expected to generate debris that will impact roadways. GEMA encourages people not to drive unless in an emergency.

High winds could also bring down power lines. Always assume a downed power line is live and life-threatening.

If you see a downed line, call Georgia Power at 1-888-891-0938 or your police or fire department to have the downed line barricaded until it can be repaired.

Be aware that heavy rain could cause localized flooding. It is never safe to drive or walk into floodwaters.

The National Weather Service says 6 inches of fast-moving floodwater can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.

Residents and evacuees should shelter in place as the storm passes. It will be unsafe to remain in your vehicle in parking lots or on roadsides.

SHELTERS

The American Red Cross has a number of shelters open around the state.

In Albany, The Albany Civic Center is open.

In Augusta, the Academy of Richmond County, Butler High School, Glenn Hills High School, Glenn Hills Middle School, Trinity on the Hill, Westside High School, Cross Creek High School, the Warren Road Community Center are open.

In Byron, Peach Fire Station Number 1 is open.

In Cartersville, the Church at Liberty Square is open.

In Columbus, the Columbus Civic Center Ice Arena and the Frank Chester Recreation Center are open.

In Cordele, Blackshear Trail Elementary School is open.

In Cuthbert, the First Baptist Church of Cuthbert is open.

In Douglas, the Central Square Complex Gymnasium are open.

In Dublin, Dublin High School, East Laurens High School, and East Laurens Middle School are open.

In Fort Valley, Peach Fire Station Number 6 is open.

In Gainesville, the First Baptist Church of Gainesville is open.

In Grovetown, Patriots Park is open.

In Hepzibah, Pine Hill Middle School and Spirit Creek Middle School.

In Miller, the Colquitt Freewill Baptist Church is open.

In Macon, East Macon Park, Macon Memorial Gymnasium, the North Macon Park Community Center, the Rosa Jackson Recreation Center are open.

In Preston, Webster County Community Center is open.

In Thomasville, New Covenant Church is open.

In Tifton, Abraham Baldwin college is open.

In Waycross, Ware County High School, and Waycross Middle School is open.

For a list of good samaritan shelters, contact your local emergency management agency or visit GEMA’s website.

State officials urge residents and evacuees to wait for local authorities to recommend re-entry to evacuated areas.

 9/11/17 8:21 a.m.

Weather Updates

·        Hurricane Irma has maximum sustained winds of 75 MPH and is moving toward the north-northwest near 18 MPH. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 415 miles. 

·        A tropical storm warning remains in effect for Coastal Georgia, with hurricane-level winds greater than 74 mph possible offshore.

·        Warnings also remain in effect for damaging storm surge and flooding, with a tornado watch active for Chatham and surrounding counties. 

·        As of 5:00 AM, there are 8,400 customers without power in Chatham County and 67,000 statewide. To find if there is a power outage in your area, please visit: http://outagemap.georgiapower.com/external/default.html

·        Curfew ends at 6 AM. Conditions will be deteriorating, tornados and rough rainy conditions are possible.

Schools

·        The Savannah-Chatham County School System has announced that school closures will run through Wednesday, Sept. 13. There will be no school Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.

·        Savannah State University’s campus is closed and all classes are canceled through Tuesday.

·        Armstrong State University’s main campus and Hinesville campus will be closed through Tuesday.

Airport

·        According to the Savannah Hilton Head International Airport website, all incoming flights have been cancelled for Monday.

·        One departing flight remains on the schedule: An 8:55 AM departure from Savannah to Atlanta. 

Road Closures, Flooding, and other Damages

·        The Talmadge Bridge remains closed until further notice.

·        Traffic lights are out at the following streets:

o   Montgomery St. and Staley St.

o   Johnny Mercer Blvd. and Bryan Woods Rd.

 

·        Road closures will be constantly updated at http://www.chathamcounty.org/Road-Closures

·        To report a road closure, call the CEMA call center at (912) 201-4500.

·        To report damage, such as downed power lines, trees, flooding and washout, visit http://publicworks.chathamcounty.org/Service-Requests or the Chatham County, Georgia Facebook page.

·        Georgia Emergency Management Agency is seeking the public’s help in determining the extent of the Hurricane Irma storm damage. Click here to report damage to homes, businesses, and public facilities.

 

Hospitals and Emergency Services:

·        The emergency rooms at Memorial and St. Joseph’s Hospitals remain open.  

·        Police, fire and ambulance services will be suspended, if there are sustained winds of 39 mph at the airport.

·        At 4:08 AM, Garden City pulled police units off the street, followed by Port Wentworth and Bloomingdale at 4:38 PM.

 9/10/17 8:34 p.m.

Statement from MARTA regarding service for Monday, Sept. 11.

MARTA SUSPENDS MONDAY BUS, RAIL SERVICE

MARTA GM: Safety Remains Our Top Priority

ATLANTA—The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) will suspend all bus and rail service for Monday, Sept. 11, ahead of the anticipated severe weather conditions caused by Hurricane Irma.

Due to Hurricane Irma's projected impact in Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal expanded the emergency declaration throughout the entire state of Georgia. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has opened an emergency shelter and urged residents to remain off the roadways.

“The projected impact of this approaching storm requires us to suspend all MARTA service for Monday. We will continue to coordinate with state and local officials and emergency personnel to determine our service schedule for Tuesday,” said MARTA GM/CEO Keith Parker. “Safety remains our top priority for both our customers and employees.”

MARTA customers are encouraged visit the MARTA website or call customer service at 404-848-5000 for updates regarding Tuesday’s service plans.

 

9/10/17 8:04 p.m.

 

Update on closures, shelters, links to government sites and services, and GPB Hurricane Irma coverage

Monday, Sept. 11, classes and events are canceled at the following locations due to Hurricane Irma. Check with individual institutions for specific information.

Augusta Technical College

Augusta University

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

Albany State University

Armstrong State

Athens Technical College

Brenau University - All campuses

College of Coastal Georgia

East Georgia State College - Augusta

Emory University

Georgia College and State University

Georgia Gwinnett College

Georgia Military College

Georgia State University

Georgia Southern University

Georgia Tech

Kennesaw State University - Kennesaw and Marietta

LaGrange College

Mercer University - Macon, Atlanta, Savannah and Columbus

Middle Georgia State University - Macon

Morehouse College

Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah State

The Medical College of Georgia

University of Georgia - Griffin

University of Georgia - Gwinnett

University of Georgia

University of West Georgia

Valdosta State University

Wesleyan College - Macon

SHELTERS

American Red Cross Shelters:

Brooks (East Macon) Recreation Center
3326 Ocmulgee E Blvd, Macon, GA 31217

North Macon Park Community Center
815 N Macon Park Dr, Macon, GA 31210

Frank Johnson Recreation Center
2227 Mercer University Dr, Macon, GA 31201

Columbus Civic Center
400 4th Street, Columbus, GA 31901

Trinity on the Hill
1330 Monte Sano Ave, Augusta, GA 30904

Westside High School

1102 Patriots Way, Augusta, GA 30907

Blackshear Trail Elementary
1001 Blackshear Road, Cordele, GA 31015

Waycross High School
700 Victory Dr, Waycross GA 31503

Cross Point Church
4100 North Valdosta Rd, Valdosta, GA 31602

First Baptist Church of Cuthbert
657 College St, Cuthbert, GA 39840

Dublin High School
1127 Hillcrest Parkway, Dublin, GA 31021

East Laurens High School
920 HWY 80 E, East Dublin, GA 31027

Abraham Baldwin College
2802 Moore Highway, Tifton, GA 31793

Albany Civic Center
100 W Oglethorpe Blvd, Albany, GA 31701

Liberty Square Church
2001 Liberty Square Dr NE, Cartersville, GA 30121

Animal Shelters:

Albany Humane Society

1705 West Oakridge Drive, Albany, Georgia 31707

Macon Market Pet Shelter
2055 Eisenhower Parkway, Macon, GA 310206

Muscogee PAWS Humane, Inc.
4900 Milgen Rd, Columbus GA 31907

Okefenokee Fairgrounds: OPEN
2451 Knight Avenue, Waycross, Georgia 31503

The Pet Lodge
5970 Peach Parkway, Fort Valley, GA 31030

Southern Pines
575 Southern Pines Rd, Dublin, GA 31021

Augusta Animal Shelter
4330 Deans Bridge Road, Blythe, Augusta, Georgia 30805

Good Samaritan Shelters:

This list in not all-inclusive.

Freedom Church
500 Underwood Rd, Milledgeville, GA 31061 

Park Avenue United Methodist Church
100 E Park Ave Valdosta, GA 31602

Macedonia Baptist Church
3420 E Centerpoint Rd, Preston, GA 31824

Scott Baptist Church
5 Archer Pond Smith Rd, Adrian, GA 31002

Northside Baptist Church
423 E County Rd, Thomaston, GA 30286

Remnant Church of God
83205 Memorial Drive Waycross, GA 31501

Macedonia Baptist Church

702 Arnold McKinney Dr. Waycross, GA 31501

Manor Community Center
Manor-Millwood Rd. Manor, GA 31550

Brewton Parker College Gillis Gymnasium
201 David-Eliza Fountain Circle Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445

First Baptist Church of Mount Vernon
Corner of US Hwy 280 & US Hwy 221 Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445

Calvary Grace Baptist Church
777 US Hwy 280, Ailey, Georgia 30410

Zion Hill Free Will Baptist Church
3064 Zion Hill Road Millwood, GA 31552

New Life Assembly of God Church
2191 Golf Course Road, Blackshear, GA 31516

USEFUL LINKS

  • View up-to-date emergency declarations from Governor Deal here.
  • View a list of Georgia shelter locations here or call 1-800-TRY-GEMA.
  • Download FEMA’s app with emergency information by county here.
  • Download GEMHSA’s Ready Georgia mobile with the “I’m safe” alert feature here.
  • Follow Georgia 511 for real-time traffic 24/7. 
  • Self-report basic damage information on homes, businesses, and public facilities with GEMHSA here 
  • Apply for FEMA assistance or register your sustained damage here.
  • List you and your family as safe with the Red Cross here.
  • Red Cross disaster assistance: 1-877-500-8645.
  • See safety tips from the Georgia Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency here.   

More Hurricane Irma coverage from GPB News:

Hurricane Irma: Real-Time Updates

Irma Makes Another Landfall In Florida, Scaling The West Coast

Macon Church Hosts First Responders

Irma Prompts First Ever Tropical Storm Warning For Atlanta

Should I Stay Or Should I Go: Savannah Area Residents Weigh Evacuation

Macon Opens Fourth Shelter

Savannah Hospital Evacuates Babies To Macon

Macon Steps Up For Irma Evacuees

Animal Evacuees Head To Georgia National Fairgrounds Ahead Of Hurricane Irma

Chatham Remains Under Evacuation Order: Officials Fear Storm Surge And Flooding

Hurricane Irma Slows Tornado Recovery In Albany

Tybee Island Prepares For Irma

Chatham County Expands Homeless Outreach Before Irma

How Will Georgia's New Emergency Management Team Handle Irma?

Florida Power Companies Expect Thousands Without Power For DaysTelecom Companies Turn To Drones For Help After Hurricanes

How To Help As Florida Is Dealt 'Catastrophic' Blow From Irma

9/10/17 7:28 p.m.

Here is the current shelter situation in Augusta. This information is different than what has been included in GEMA reports. Patriot’s Park, 5445 Columbia Road, Grovetown, Georgia, is opened as a shelter for self-evacuees. The Warren Road Community Center, the Henry Brigham Center, and Trinity On The Hill United Methodist Church are at capacity and cannot accept any additional evacuees at this time. Additional shelters may be opened for self-evacuees as the need arises and will be posted on the Augusta, Georgia website. Diamond Lakes Regional Park, 103 Diamond Lakes Way, has 26 sites plus up to 100 additional spots, for self-contained campers. Check-in times are 8 a.m. through 8 p.m.

There are approximately 2,000 evacuees pursuant to the Chatham County Plan in seven shelters. The shelters prepared for the Chatham County Plan are not open to the public or self-evacuees and the Richmond County Board of Education is maintaining its media-free campus rules. 

9/10/17 6:41 p.m.

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 downed 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.

"We expect 3-5 feet of storm surges for our coastal areas said Gov. Nathan Deal at a press conference Sunday evening.

The National Hurricane Center reports water levels are rising rapidly in Naples from Hurricane Irma's storm surge. A federal tide gauge in Naples reported a 7-foot rise of water in just 90 minutes.

A wind gust of 142 mph was recorded at the Naples Municipal Airport as the storm kept its top sustained wind speed of 110 mph.

Irma has picked up forward speed and is moving inland at 14 mph and its eye is about 25 miles south southeast of Fort Myers.

President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster in the state of Florida, making federal aid available to people affected by Hurricane Irma in nine counties already hit by the storm.

The federal help includes temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover in the counties of Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pinellas, and Sarasota.

Federal funding also is available to governments and non-profit organizations for emergencies in all 67 Florida counties. For the first 30 days, that money will cover 100 percent of the costs of some emergency responses.

Hurricane Irma has weakened to a Category 2 storm, technically losing its major hurricane status, after making landfall in southwestern Florida. It is over land but hugging the coast as it moves north.

The National Hurricane Center said Irma's winds were at 110 mph, just below major hurricane status, as the center of the still dangerous and wide storm moved farther inland. It was 5 miles north of Naples late Sunday afternoon. It came ashore on Marco Island at 3:35 p.m.

The hurricane center says "although weakening is forecast, Irma is expected to remain a hurricane at least through Monday morning."

The hurricane center says the eye of Irma should hug Florida's west coast through Monday morning and then push more inland over northern Florida and southwestern Georgia on Monday afternoon. The forecast puts the storm generally over the populated Tampa-St. Petersburg region a couple hours after midnight into Monday morning.

Jeff Masters is meteorology director of the private Weather Underground. He says the fact that the storm approached the Tampa region from over land and from the south could slightly reduce the expected storm surge, although he says it will still be dangerous.

Irma is producing deluges of 2 to 4 inches of rain an hour, which can cause flash flooding.

9/10/17 5:21 p.m.

American Red Cross Shelters:

Brooks (East Macon) Recreation Center
3326 Ocmulgee E Blvd, Macon, GA 31217

North Macon Park Community Center
815 N Macon Park Dr, Macon, GA 31210

Frank Johnson Recreation Center
2227 Mercer University Dr, Macon, GA 31201

Columbus Civic Center
400 4th Street, Columbus, GA 31901

Trinity on the Hill
1330 Monte Sano Ave, Augusta, GA 30904

Westside High School

1102 Patriots Way, Augusta, GA 30907

Blackshear Trail Elementary
1001 Blackshear Road, Cordele, GA 31015

Waycross High School
700 Victory Dr, Waycross GA 31503

Cross Point Church
4100 North Valdosta Rd, Valdosta, GA 31602

First Baptist Church of Cuthbert
657 College St, Cuthbert, GA 39840

Dublin High School
1127 Hillcrest Parkway, Dublin, GA 31021

East Laurens High School
920 HWY 80 E, East Dublin, GA 31027

Abraham Baldwin College
2802 Moore Highway, Tifton, GA 31793

Albany Civic Center
100 W Oglethorpe Blvd, Albany, GA 31701

Liberty Square Church
2001 Liberty Square Dr NE, Cartersville, GA 30121

Animal Shelters:

Albany Humane Society

1705 West Oakridge Drive, Albany, Georgia 31707

Macon Market Pet Shelter
2055 Eisenhower Parkway, Macon, GA 310206

Muscogee PAWS Humane, Inc.
4900 Milgen Rd, Columbus GA 31907

Okefenokee Fairgrounds: OPEN
2451 Knight Avenue, Waycross, Georgia 31503

The Pet Lodge
5970 Peach Parkway, Fort Valley, GA 31030

Southern Pines
575 Southern Pines Rd, Dublin, GA 31021

Augusta Animal Shelter
4330 Deans Bridge Road, Blythe, Augusta, Georgia 30805

Good Samaritan Shelters:

This list in not all-inclusive.

Freedom Church
500 Underwood Rd, Milledgeville, GA 31061 

Park Avenue United Methodist Church
100 E Park Ave Valdosta, GA 31602

Macedonia Baptist Church
3420 E Centerpoint Rd, Preston, GA 31824

Scott Baptist Church
5 Archer Pond Smith Rd, Adrian, GA 31002

Northside Baptist Church
423 E County Rd, Thomaston, GA 30286

Remnant Church of God
83205 Memorial Drive Waycross, GA 31501

Macedonia Baptist Church

702 Arnold McKinney Dr. Waycross, GA 31501

Manor Community Center
Manor-Millwood Rd. Manor, GA 31550

Brewton Parker College Gillis Gymnasium
201 David-Eliza Fountain Circle Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445

First Baptist Church of Mount Vernon
Corner of US Hwy 280 & US Hwy 221 Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445

Calvary Grace Baptist Church
777 US Hwy 280, Ailey, Georgia 30410

Zion Hill Free Will Baptist Church
3064 Zion Hill Road Millwood, GA 31552

New Life Assembly of God Church
2191 Golf Course Road, Blackshear, GA 31516

9/10/17 5:06 p.m.

Hurricane Irma has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm, with 110 mph winds as it hits Naples, Florida. Dangerous storm surges are expected immediately after the eye passes along Florida’s west coast.

Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed said the city expects five inches of rain and dangerous wind speeds. Additional shelters for Atlanta’s homeless have been opened and the city is providing transportation. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and MARTA will remain open during the storm. The Atlanta streetcar system is closed.

A curfew will be in effect in Chatham County from 10 p.m. Sunday, September 10, 2017 until 6 a.m Monday, September 11, 2017.

DeKalb County Government offices will be closed Monday, Sept. 11, and Tuesday, Sept. 12. Fulton County Government offices, including the Fulton County Courthouse, will close on Monday, September 11. The City of Fairburn will be closed Monday, September 11, 2017 due to potential inclement weather.

Due to the latest report from the National Weather Service, the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer has determined that the best course of action is to not turn off water and sewer services on St. Simons Island. 

The Marco Island police department is warning people who didn't evacuate to get to higher floors in their buildings.

The department issued the warning in a tweet on Sunday just as Hurricane Irma made landfall on the island.

Forecasts have called for life-threatening storm surge of up to 15 feet along the coast.

The University of Miami will not reopen either its main campus in Coral Gables or its Marine campus before Sept. 18 while it assesses the damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

The school says it is "proactively planning the recovery process." Numerous out-of-state students went back home last week to wait out the storm and it remains unclear when they will even be able to travel back to South Florida.

Miami's annual football rivalry game with Florida State has already been pushed back to Oct. 7. It had been scheduled for Sept. 16 in Tallahassee, the state capital that is also in Irma's projected path.

9/10/17 4:41 p.m.

A 130 mph wind gust was recently reported by the Marco Island Police Department. A 71 mph sustained wind and 97 mph gust was recently reported at a weather station in Naples.

A curfew will be in effect in Chatham County from 10 p.m. Sunday, September 10, 2017 until 6 a.m Monday, September 11, 2017.

DeKalb County Government offices will be closed Monday, Sept. 11, and Tuesday, Sept. 12. Fulton County Government offices, including the Fulton County Courthouse, will close on Monday, September 11. The City of Fairburn will be closed Monday, September 11, 2017 due to potential inclement weather.

Due to the latest report from the National Weather Service, the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer has determined that the best course of action is to not turn off water and sewer services on St. Simons Island. 

  • View up-to-date emergency declarations from Governor Deal here.
  • View a list of Georgia shelter locations here or call 1-800-TRY-GEMA.
  • Download FEMA’s app with emergency information by county here.
  • Download GEMHSA’s Ready Georgia mobile with the “I’m safe” alert feature here.
  • Follow Georgia 511 for real-time traffic 24/7. 
  • Self-report basic damage information on homes, businesses, and public facilities with GEMHSA here 
  • Apply for FEMA assistance or register your sustained damage here.
  • List you and your family as safe with the Red Cross here.
  • Red Cross disaster assistance: 1-877-500-8645.
  • See safety tips from the Georgia Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency here.   

9/10/17 3:53 p.m.

The center of Hurricane Irma made landfall in Marco Island in southwest Florida at 3:35 p.m. as a Category 3 hurricane. A 130 mph wind gust was recently reported by the Marco Island Police Department.

More than 2.1 million customers have lost power in Florida with Hurricane Irma striking the state.

Florida Power & Light reported the numbers Sunday afternoon. The utility, which services much of south Florida, says more than 845,000 of those customers are in Miami-Dade County.

Duke Energy, the dominant utility in the northern half of Florida, has about 13,000 outages with the outer bands of Irma sweeping across the region.

The power companies say they have extra crews on hand to try to restore power — when it becomes safe to do so.

Hurricane Irma is affecting the House of Representative's work schedule in Washington.

A notice from the House majority leader's office says the House now doesn't plan to take any votes Monday because of "the large number of absences" as a result of the storm.

The first votes of the week are expected Tuesday evening.

The House leadership will keep tabs on the situation and announce updates as necessary.

According to According to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Irma has the potential to have an impact similar to 1995’s Hurricane Opal.

Credit NWS Peachtree City

9/10/17 3:44 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Peachtree City presented a partner briefing today on the impacts of Hurricane Irma across North and North Central GA. This long briefing includes timing and details and impacts for folks making preparations in for Hurricane Irma.

 

9/10/17 3:20 p.m.

 

Starting at 5 p.m. GPB will carry special Hurricane Irma coverage from NPR with Michel Martin hosting in Washington DC and Rickey Bevington hosting from Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta.

We will have updates from NPR reporters and member station reporters in Ft. Myers, Tampa, Miami and Tallahassee as well as coverage from GPB reporters in Savannah and Macon.

Tune in or stream on gpbnews.org.

Monday, Sept. 11, classes and events are canceled at the following locations due to Hurricane Irma. Check with individual institutions for specific information.

Augusta Technical College

Augusta University

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

Albany State University

Armstrong State

Athens Technical College

Brenau University - All Campuses

College of Coastal Georgia

East Georgia State College - Augusta

Emory University

Georgia College and State University

Georgia Gwinnett College 

Georgia Military College

Georgia State University

Georgia Southern University 

Georgia Tech

Kennesaw State University - Kennesaw and Marietta 

LaGrange College 

Mercer University - Macon, Atlanta, Savannah and Columbus

Morehouse College

Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah State

The Medical College of Georgia

University of Georgia - Griffin

University of Georgia - Gwinnett

University of Georgia

University of West Georgia

Valdosta State University

Georgia State Parks are accepting evacuees and pets. 

Georgia State Parks in the middle and northern parts of the state are open and available to those displaced by the storm. Some parks, such as Elijah Clark on the east side of the state still have reservable campsites, and Watson Mill Bridge still has available stalls for those traveling with horses. All parks are allowing visitors to "dry camp" in group shelters, parking areas, and fields. Many parks are close to Interstates and highways, providing a quick stop for those traveling through Georgia. High FallsIndian Springs, and Chattahoochee Bend state parks are all located just south of the Atlanta metro area and have space available for more guests. Parks north of Atlanta also welcome guests to their campgrounds and for dry camping. Red Top MountainFort Yargo, and Don Carter are all close to major interstates north of Atlanta. 

 

9/10/17 12:46 p.m.

Gov. Deal’s Communications Office statement

Acting on a recommendation from the state's Emergency Operations Command and ahead of heavy rains, strong wind and potential flooding from Hurricane Irma, Gov. Nathan Deal today expanded the emergency declaration to include an additional 65 counties. The state of emergency now includes all 159 counties in Georgia. State government will be closed Monday and Tuesday for all employees except essential personnel.

9/10/17 12:03 p.m.

Senator David Perdue Statement On Hurricane Irma Preparation Efforts In Georgia

“I join all Georgians in applauding the ongoing efforts of our first responders, state and local government officials, and emergency volunteers. Across the state, we have seen Georgians come together and help others as we brace for this dangerous storm. Currently, folks across the state have turned their churches, schools, and community centers into shelters to assist not only Georgians, but also Floridians. Thank you to everyone who is lending a helping hand. We must continue to take precautions seriously. My team stands ready to help, but the most important thing right now is to continue to heed these warnings and prepare accordingly.”

 

 Georgia Hurricane Resources:

  • View up-to-date emergency declarations from Governor Deal here.
  • View a list of Georgia shelter locations here or call 1-800-TRY-GEMA.
  • Download FEMA’s app with emergency information by county here.
  • Download GEMHSA’s Ready Georgia mobile with the “I’m safe” alert feature here.
  • Follow Georgia 511 for real-time traffic 24/7. 
  • Self-report basic damage information on homes, businesses, and public facilities with GEMHSA here
  • Apply for FEMA assistance or register your sustained damage here.
  • List you and your family as safe with the Red Cross here.
  • Red Cross disaster assistance: 1-877-500-8645.
  • See safety tips from the Georgia Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency here.   

9/10/17 11:44 a.m.

The first-ever tropical storm warning has been issued for Atlanta as Hurricane Irma hits Florida on its way toward Georgia.

On the coast, communities are shifting from preparation to ready-mode. Yesterday Chatham County Emergency Management evacuated more than 2,000 residents to shelters in Augusta and Douglas. At a press conference this morning, officials said they will send their last load of evacuees from Savannah Civic Center today at 1 p.m.

CEMA Director Dennis Jones says emergency responders are ready for whatever Irma brings and says anyone choosing to stay here should be too.

“We’re expecting trop storm force winds to start arriving around midnight tonight and lasting through about 6 p.m. tomorrow,” Jones said. “As far as storm surge goes, again we’re expecting four to six feet on top of the astronomical tide. There is also an enhanced risk of tornadoes associated with this storm. So we could see sustained winds of 39 miles per hour or higher over a fourteen to fifteen hour period. We’re under a storm surge warning, a tropical storm warning, a hurricane watch and a flash flood watch. We’re under those until further notice.”

Jones said 911 is getting a lot of non-emergency calls. He urged people to call the Emergency Operations Center at 912-201-4500, for anything that isn’t an emergency. Jones also noted that the emergency rooms at Memorial and St. Joseph’s Hospitals are open as of 10 a.m. today.

County officials cautioned people who evacuated to not return until after the storm, reminding people of the risk of flooding. A county-wide curfew begins tonight at 10 p.m. and lasts until 6 a.m. tomorrow. Jones said it’s a misdemeanor crime to break the curfew, carrying a fine of up to $1,000 and possible jail time. County Chairman Al Scott says the curfew will be enforced throughout the county and times may change tomorrow based on weather conditions and power outages.

Now emergency officials will turn their attention to how to recover after the storm. Jones says today they’ll identify areas most likely to flood and plan how to assess them, and look at fuel supplies and other goods they’ll need for Chatham County to start to recover after the storm.

In a press release issued Sunday morning, DFCS announced it will issues monthly food stamp benefits early to support residents affected by Hurricane Irma.

In an effort to help ease the burden of purchasing food for low-income families affected by Hurricane Irma, the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) has released September’s allotment of food stamp benefits to all Georgia residents.

Georgia recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, traditionally known as food stamps) can now access their September benefits via their (EBT) cards and do not have to wait until their regularly-scheduled issuance date later this month.

9/10/17 11:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump has spoken with the governors of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee as Hurricane Irma moves north.

All four states could be affected by the storm, which struck the Florida Keys on Sunday.

As Hurricane Irma evacuees fill up Atlanta hotels and shelters, folks are getting creative to offer them a hand.

About 100 of America's top chefs who had gathered for their annual summit changed gears. They pivoted their planned Monday agenda on "heritage grains" and "how to cut food waste." Now, instead, the chefs will prepare a gourmet feast for Irma refugees and serve it at a church.

Hotels were full Sunday morning. At the luxury Georgian Terrace Hotel, staff were flexible with rules to accommodate evacuees. Guests walked pit bulls through the lobby. Large families pulled roller bags and clutched blankets as they squeezed into small rooms without enough beds.

A block away, a church offered free hugs for evacuees.

And a chalkboard sign outside a restaurant offered a discount: "30% OFF Food with FLORIDA ID for Hurricane evacuees."

The National Hurricane Center says Category 4 Hurricane Irma is now "headed for the southwest Florida coast" as winds continue to pick up speed in all of South Florida.

Irma continues to be armed with 130 mph winds as its large eye passes north of the Keys.

Storm surge is forecast for 10 to 15 feet in southwestern Florida.

Hurricane-force winds are continuing throughout southern Florida, including the Keys. The hurricane center warns that winds affecting upper floors of high-rise building will be much stronger than at ground level.

The hurricane center also emphasizes that Irma will bring life-threatening wind to much of Florida regardless of the exact track of its center.

The National Hurricane Center says it's looking more likely that the eye of powerful Hurricane Irma will southwestern Florida and Tampa Bay region. While the core of the massive storm is expected to miss the populated Florida southeast coast, forecasters say the Miami region will still experience life-threatening hurricane conditions.

Its winds weakened to 130 mph when it hit Cuba, but Irma is forecast to regain strength over the ultra-warm Florida Straits and hit western Florida as a strong Category 4 storm. The storm Hurricane Irma's eye reached the lower Florida Keys around 9 a.m. Sunday.

Hurricane center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said a direct hit into the Tampa region, which hasn't felt a major hurricane since 1921, has long been a concern.

He said storm surge there will likely be a major problem.

9/9/17 6:35 p.m.

Georgia officials have decided a one-way escape route for coastal residents fleeing Hurricane Irma isn't needed after all. State troopers had all lanes of Interstate 16 heading westbound out of Savannah on Saturday morning. But traffic on the route was light and Gov. Nathan Deal ordered that eastbound lanes return to normal use just eight hours later. Officials adjusted the evacuation plan for Irma as forecasts shifted the storm's predicted path further westward.

Georgia DOT is closing the Sidney Lanier Bridge on SR 25 in Brunswick-Glynn County and the Talmadge Memorial Bridge on US 17 in Savannah-Chatham County at 12 p.m. tomorrow, Sunday, September 10 in the coastal region due to anticipated gale-force winds from Hurricane Irma.

 

The National Hurricane Center's latest forecast has Irma's powerful eye heading to the Florida Keys, Southwest Florida and the Tampa region. That doesn't mean the Miami and Southeast Florida area is spared because that region is still likely to get dangerous hurricane conditions. The storm is likely to come ashore Sunday. Irma was weakened a bit when it went over Cuba's coast but is still a Category 4 storm and expected to gain some strength over the Florida Straits.

More Hurricane Irma coverage from GPB News:

Hurricane Irma: Real-Time Updates

Macon Opens Fourth Shelter

Savannah Hospital Evacuates Babies To Macon

Macon Steps Up For Irma Evacuees

Animal Evacuees Head To Georgia National Fairgrounds Ahead Of Hurricane Irma

Chatham Remains Under Evacuation Order: Officials Fear Storm Surge And Flooding

Hurricane Irma Slows Tornado Recovery In Albany

Tybee Island Prepares For Irma

Chatham County Expands Homeless Outreach Before Irma

 

How Will Georgia's New Emergency Management Team Handle Irma?

9/9/17 1:43 p.m.

Governor Deal's press release on Hurricane Irma’s further shift westward

Acting on a recommendation from the state's Emergency Operations Command and in agreement with the Chatham County Emergency Management Agency and following Hurricane Irma’s further shift westward, Gov. Nathan Deal today issued an executive order altering the emergency declaration for Chatham County. As indicated in the attached maps, Zone B and C in Chatham County will be moving to a voluntary evacuation order. The mandatory evacuation order issued by Gov. Deal remains in effect for all of Zone A throughout the coastal region. Due to the lack of traffic using contraflow, the Georgia Department of Transportation is removing contraflow operations on Interstate 16 by 4 p.m. today, returning normal traffic configurations for both east and westbound travel lanes. This allows the state to relocate our resources being used for contraflow and transition them westward. 

9/9/17 10:05 a.m.

EVACUATION

Beginning today, a mandatory evacuation order is in effect for Chatham County, all areas east of I-95 and some areas west of I-95 that could be impacted by storm surges and other storm hazards.

TRAFFIC

Contraflow has started on Interstate 16 to allow all lanes to carry traffic westbound.

 

Barricades will be in place on I-16 eastbound at state route 26 in Laurens County to allow evacuation traffic to use all 4 lanes in a westbound direction. 

 

A median crossover on I-16 east of I-95 crosses traffic over onto I-16 eastbound lanes to travel westbound.  

 

A cross-over on I-16 at SR 26 in Laurens County directs traffic back to regular westbound lanes prior to arrival in Macon. 

 

A third median cross-over between Macon and Dublin takes the traffic back from the contra-flow lanes back to the normal westbound lanes.

 

All eastbound access at interchanges is blocked from Dublin to Savannah.

 

GDOT has installed drop gate barricades to keep drivers from heading eastbound on I-16 during a mandatory evacuation 

 

SHELTERS

 

The American Red Cross has a number of shelters open around the state.

 

In Macon, the Brooks (East Macon) Recreation Center, the North Macon Park Community Center, and the Frank Johnson Recreation Center are open.

 

In Columbus, the Columbus Civic Center is open.

 

In Augusta, Westside High School and Trinity on the Hill are open.

 

In Cordele, Blackshear Trail Elementary School is open.

 

In Waycross, Ware County High School is open.

 

In Valdosta, Cross Point Church is open.

 

In Cuthbert, the First Baptist Church of Cuthbert is open.

 

In Dublin, Dublin High School and East Laurens High school are open

 

In Tifton, Abraham Baldwin College is open.

 

In Albany, the Albany Civic Center is open.

 

In Cartersville, Liberty Square Church is open.

 

For a list of local good samaritan shelters, contact your local emergency management agency.

9/8/17 3:38 p.m.

Governor Deal's press release expanding the State of Emergency in preparation for Hurricane Irma

Following a recommendation from Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) officials ahead of Hurricane Irma’s imminent landfall, Gov. Nathan Deal today expanded the state of emergency to include a total of 94 counties. In light of the storm’s forecasted track shifting west, which will bring hurricane force winds, rain and potential flooding, 64 additional counties are now under the emergency declaration. Mandatory evacuations for coastal areas east of I-95 and all of Chatham County remain in place and contraflow on I-16 will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday.

The additional counties include: Baker, Baldwin, Ben Hill, Berrien, Bibb, Bleckley, Brooks, Calhoun, Chattahoochee, Clay, Colquitt, Cook, Crawford, Crisp, Decatur, Dodge, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Harris, Houston, Irwin, Jefferson, Johnson, Jones, Lamar, Lanier, Laurens, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marion, Meriwether, Miller, Mitchell, Monroe, Montgomery, Muscogee, Peach, Pike, Pulaski, Quitman, Randolph, Schley, Seminole, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Taylor, Telfair, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Troup, Turner, Twiggs, Upson, Washington, Webster, Wheeler, Wilcox, Wilkinson and Worth Counties.

A state of emergency now exists in the following 94 counties: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Baker, Baldwin, Ben Hill, Berrien, Bibb, Bleckley, Brantley, Brooks, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Calhoun, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Chattahoochee, Clay, Clinch, Coffee, Colquitt, Cook, Crawford, Crisp, Decatur, Dodge, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Echols, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Grady, Harris, Houston, Irwin, Jeff Davis, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, Jones, Lamar, Lanier, Laurens, Lee, Liberty, Long, Lowndes, Macon, Marion, McIntosh, Meriwether, Miller, Mitchell, Monroe, Montgomery, Muscogee, Peach, Pierce, Pike, Pulaski, Quitman, Randolph, Schley, Screven, Seminole, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Tattnall, Taylor, Telfair, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Toombs, Treutlen, Troup, Turner, Twiggs, Upson, Ware, Washington, Wayne, Webster, Wheeler, Wilcox, Wilkinson and Worth Counties.

 

9/8/17 2:00 p.m.

Credit NOAA

9/8/17 1:48 p.m.

The American Red Cross has three shelters open in Georgia.

In Macon, East Macon Park and the North Macon Park Community Center are open.

In Columbus, the Columbus Civic Center is open.

In Augusta, Westside High School opens at 5 p.m. Friday, September 8.

In Waycross, Waycross High School opens at 5 p.m. Friday, September 8.

In Cordele, Blackshear Trail Elementary School opens at 6 p.m. Friday, September 8.

In Dublin, Dublin High School opens at 7 a.m. Saturday, September 9.

In Tifton, Abraham Baldwin College opens at 8 a.m. Saturday, September 9, and Leroy Rogers Recreation Center opens at 10 a.m. Saturday, September 9.

9/8/17 1:24 p.m.

The White House: Office of the Press Secretary Press Release

President Donald J. Trump Approves Georgia Emergency Declaration

Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that an emergency exists in the State of Georgia and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Irma beginning on September 7, 2017, and continuing.

The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts.

This action will help alleviate the hardship and suffering that the emergency may inflict on the local population, and provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property, and ensure public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Coffee, Echols, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Jenkins, Jeff Davis, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne, and Ware.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide, at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.

Brock Long, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Thomas J. McCool as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

 

9/8/17 10:58 a.m.

For anyone evacuating, here is a link to find gas stations near you that have fuel.

9/8/17 9:35 a.m.

WATCH: Gov. Deal press conference on Hurricane Irma.

The city of Tybee Island and Glynn County have issued mandatory evacuation orders for all residents this morning.

 

Beginning Saturday, Saturday 9, a mandatory evacuation order will take effect for Chatham County, all areas east of I-95 and some areas west of I-95.

 

A map of the areas under that evacuation order can be found on gema.ga.gov.

TRAFFIC

Contraflow on I-16 will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday. 

Barricades will be in place on Interstate 16 eastbound at state road 26 in Laurens County to allow evacuation traffic to use all four lanes in a westbound direction.

A median crossover on I-16 east of I-95 crosses traffic over onto I-16 eastbound lanes to travel westbound. 

A crossover on I-16 at state road 26 in Laurens County directs traffic back to regular westbound lanes prior to arrival in Macon.

All eastbound access at interchanges is blocked from Dublin to Savannah.

SHELTERS

There is currently one Red Cross shelter operating in Macon with three others scheduled to open today in Macon, Waycross, and Cordele.

The following is the current list of Red Cross shelters, as well as their planned opening times.

Additional shelters have been identified and will be updated on our site once they are open. Citizens should also check with local officials for good samaritan shelters that may be open locally.

Open Shelters:

Effective on Thursday, September 7, 2017:

-East Macon Park: open at 5 p.m.

Address: 3326 Ocmulgee E Blvd., Macon, GA 31217

Effective on Friday, September 8, 2017:

-North Macon Park Community Center: open at 10 a.m.

Address: 815 N Macon Park Dr., Macon, GA 31210

-Waycross High School: open at 5 p.m.

Address: 700 Victory Dr., Waycross, GA 31503

-Blackshear Trail Elementary: open at 6 p.m.

Address: 1001 Blackshear Road, Cordele, GA 31015

Additional Sheltering Options

Open Campgrounds:

Effective on Thursday, September 7, 2017 at 8 a.m., West Point Lake will open Holiday campground to accommodate evacuees from Hurricane Irma. Registration for a campsite will be handled at Holiday campground gatehouse. Although not required, evacuees are encouraged to call Holiday campground in advance at 706.884.6818.

Please provide some form of identification that verifies they reside in one of the impacted areas from this hurricane before obtaining a campsite.

Address: 954 Abbottsford Road, LaGrange, Georgia 30240. The park is located off GA Highway 109, approximately 10 miles west of Lagrange, GA.

Atlanta Motor Speedway will open its camping facilities free of charge on their unreserved campground facilities to evacuees seeking temporary refuge from the approaching Hurricane Irma.

The speedway will open its facilities Thursday. Evacuees will have free access to hot showers and restroom facilities at the Rinnai Shower Station camper bath house. For more information, contact the speedway at (770) 946-4211 or go to www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.

 

MORE INFORMATION

For more information on evacuation orders, traffic conditions, and shelters, visit gema.ga.gov.

9/7/17 12:55 p.m.

Governor Deal's press release expanding the State of Emergency in preparation for Hurricane Irma

Following a recommendation from Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) officials and local Emergency Management Agencies, Gov. Nathan Deal is expanding his emergency declaration to include 24 additional counties, with a total of 30 counties now included in a state of emergency.

Deal also issued a mandatory evacuation order for all areas east of I-95, all of Chatham County and some areas west of I-95 that could be impacted by potential storm surge from Hurricane Irma. The executive order also authorized up to 5,000 Georgia National Guard members to be on state active duty to support Hurricane Irma response and recovery. The state of emergency prohibits price gouging for all goods and services related to the storm. Read the executive order here

“The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Irma,” said Deal. “I encourage all Georgians in our coastal areas that could be impacted by this storm to evacuate the area as soon as possible. Beginning Saturday, a mandatory evacuation order will take effect for Chatham County, all areas east of I-95 and some areas west of I-95 that could be impacted by this catastrophic hurricane and storm surge. GEMA/HS continues leading our preparedness efforts as we coordinate with federal, state and local officials to safely evacuate the coastal areas, provide public shelter and minimize the disruption of traffic. Finally, I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in Hurricane Irma’s path.”

The 30 counties under a state of emergency are: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Coffee, Echols, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Jenkins, Jeff Davis, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne and Ware Counties.

A map of mandatory evacuation areas and a list of local emergency management authorities are attached. 

Gov. Deal and the State Operation Command Team will hold a news conference Friday morning at 10 a.m. to provide updates on storm preparations. A livestream of the conference will be available here

GEMA/HS is coordinating disaster preparedness efforts along with the Georgia Department of Defense (GA DoD), the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Georgia Department of Public Safety. Please see below for resources and updates from each of the agencies. 

State Agency Information

GEMA/HS

GA DoD

GDOT

  • Contraflow on I-16 will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9. See the attached graphic for more information. For more information on GDOT preparations, see the attached graphic or contact Natalie Dale, ndale@dot.ga.gov