Kemp On Hurricane Dorian: 'Get Out Early Before This Thing Hits'
Gov. Brian Kemp and state emergency officials continue to urge coastal resident's east of Interstate 95 to evacuate inland, warning of strong winds, storm surge and flooding as Hurricane Dorian picks up speed and nears Georgia.
Discouraged by reports of low traffic evacuating from six coastal counties under mandatory evacuation orders, Kemp took to the podium late Tuesday with a different tack to illustrate his point.
Georgia Emergency Management Agency Director Homer Bryson and GEMA meteorologist Will Lanxton walked through the forecasted impact of the storm Wednesday heading into Thursday.
“Hurricane force winds are now forecast to only be about 15 to 20 miles off our coast,” Lanxton said. “So any jog to the left that this hurricane track may end up taking would bring the hurricane force winds … even closer to shore.”
Lanxton said officials are expecting a storm surge of 4 to 7 feet above ground level.
That combined with high tide Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning could lead to record-breaking flooding in several counties.
Kemp said Georgians should not be fooled by the storms plodding track and seemingly clear skies.
“I know it's been pretty down there today … I know the track is showing it not hitting Georgia, but I think our modeling will show how close it is,” he said. “And this is not a storm to mess with, as we have seen how deadly it was when it went across to the Bahamas.”
Fewer than 400 people evacuated Savannah on buses as of midday Tuesday, the westbound contraflow lanes of Interstate 16 were mostly empty and shelters operated by the Red Cross were at a fraction of the capacity they were during earlier storms.
But evacuation procedures are smoother than years past because of experiences during hurricanes Matthew and Irma, Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach told GPB News.
Still, Kemp says there is time for people to leave town before the brunt of the storm hits.
“I'm hopeful that a lot of people are just waiting to leave tonight or first thing in the morning if they're doing that,” he said. “You know, I would urge them to get out early before this thing hits.”
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Savannah Buses Evacuees To Augusta As Hurricane Dorian Approaches
Bryson, the GEMA director, said that staying behind simply is not worth it.
“The reality is this: if you stay, there is nothing you can do to protect your property,” he said. “The storm is going to do the damage it is going to do regardless of whether you’re in your home or not.”
The governor is expected to give his next update Wednesday afternoon.
A mandatory evacuation order is in effect for coastal residents east of Interstate 95. The governor ordered westerly contraflow of Interstate 16 starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Evactuation routes can be found here.
Residents of Savannah and Thunderbolt are under a curfew beginning 9 p.m. Tuesday. Areas of Camden County that are under evacuation orders are also under a curfew beginning 10 p.m. Tuesday.