Georgia governor, state officials provide update on Hurricane Irma
ATLANTA, Ga. -- Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and other state officials provided an update on Hurricane Irma preparations Friday morning in Atlanta.
Deal said that the most recent models have the storm's trajectory moving more westward than originally thought, putting more of the state at risk.
The shift westward has the potential to slow winds, but a greater land mass of the state will be affected, Deal said. He also said that tornadoes could be a concern as a result of the storm.
As of Thursday afternoon, 30 Georgia counties were under a state of emergency and a mandatory evacuation order was in place for some coastal areas of the state. Deal urged all people in those mandatory evacuation areas to take the warnings seriously and head to safer areas.
Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director Homer Bryson said that those who choose not to evacuate from the areas covered by the mandatory evacuation order, should expect to find themselves without power, drinking water and waste water for an extended period of time before emergency crews will be able to reach them.
"If you are in a mandatory evacuation zone, please heed those warnings and evacuate," Bryson said.
Bryson also said that because the tides are not favorable with the timing of the storm, coastal areas can expect to see a storm surge of between four and eight feet.
He said that the goal is to have more than 50 shelters open by Saturday with more than 7,000 beds available to evacuees.
Additionally, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams said that all Georgia National Parks will be accepting evacuees. He said the department hopes to have capacity for 10,000 individuals by the end of the weekend.
Earlier in the week, the Atlanta Motor Speedway opened its doors to evacuees and the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter began accepting horses evacuated from the path of the storm.
Gov. Deal asked for prayers for those who may be affected by the storm and asked that everyone in the state demonstrate kindness and concern.
"We are going to get through this," Deal said. "We are resilient state and we have been through similar things before, but sometimes repetition causes us to lose our caution. I would urge everyone to be cautious. This is a dangerous hurricane."
For a map of open Red Cross shelters, click here.