Deal:  Hurricane is ‘a time of crisis for our state’

[private]Gov. Nathan Deal said state agencies are preparing as best they can for Hurricane Irma, which is now three days away from hitting Georgia.

“This is a time of crisis for our state,” Deal said at a Friday morning news conference.

Irma, which is now a Category Four hurricane, is expected to make landfall in South Florida this weekend and then move northward into Georgia.

“It appears it may be moving more westward than originally thought,” Deal said. “This is a rapidly moving hurricane. The weather and the consequences of that hurricane can change dramatically within a relatively short period of time.”

He added that “this one has the potential of being even more devastating to our state than was Hurricane Matthew.”

The governor has ordered the evacuation of roughly 540,000 people who live along the coast and has authorized the activation of 5,000 National Guard members to help state and local agencies respond to the hurricane.

“Help us help you,” Deal urged Georgia residents. “Don’t take chances. Don’t put yourself in dangerous situations. Let’s work together. If we do that, we’re going to be all right.”

“The storm is still three days away, but we don’t want people to be complacent,” said Homer Bryson, head of the Georgia Emergency Managment Agency (GEMA).  “We want people to heed the advice of evacuation and please leave.”

DOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said the lanes of I-16, one of the main highways out of Savannah, will be “contra-flowed” as of 8 a.m. Saturday — the eastbound lanes will be converted to westbound lanes so that motorists can get out of the city more easily.

“The only direction you can travel is west to Macon and Dublin,” McMurry said. “I-16, all four lanes. will be headed toward Macon.”

McMurry said the Peach Pass lanes along I-75 and I-85 in Metro Atlanta will be opened up with no toll charged to accommodate the traffic moving into the state out of Florida.

Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams said state parks will be opened to people seeking shelter from the hurricane.

“DNR will not turn anyone away at our parks,” Williams said.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Homer Bryson , Hurricane Irma , Nathan Deal , Russell McMurry