Crystal Travaille takes a cell phone photo of the wind and seas on the beach as Hurricane Dorian makes its way up the East Coast.
Crystal Travaille takes a cell phone photo of the wind and seas on the beach as Hurricane Dorian makes its way up the East Coast.

Effects of Hurricane Dorian are poised to reach coastal Georgia as a Category 2 hurricane Thursday. Meteorologists are expecting heavy rain bands, powerful gusts of wind and the threat of storm surge.  

Congressman Buddy Carter, who represents all coastal Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives, urges residents to heed the warnings from Georgia Emergency Management officials and to take evacuation orders seriously. Carter says he is worried people along the coast have become “complacent.”

“Because of that I think people are just, 'well, we'll wait and see,'" Carter said. "There's no telling when it could pick up speed and all of a sudden be on top of us.

The National Weather Service said Wednesday that Hurricane Dorian is expected to bring heavy rain and flash flooding to portions of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina over the next three days. The exact impact from the storm will not be known until after it has passed.

“The only predictability about hurricanes is that they are unpredictable," Carter said. "If this hurricane were to wobble 20 miles Westward, it would be devastating. And for those who are thinking ‘oh it decreased in strength from a Category 5 to a Category 2,’ listen a Category 2 Hurricane is still a dangerous hurricane and you need to be aware of that.” 

Wednesday afternoon Gov. Kemp ended the westerly contraflow of I-16 leading out of the coast, but Carter said this is not a signal for evacuated residents to return home.

“As far as people trying to get back in, now is not the time," he said. "Please stay away until you get more information from emergency management officials. They will let you know when it is safe to come back.

Carter also warns residents who have yet to evacuate that they do not have much longer before it becomes too dangerous to leave.

“The window of opportunity for people who want to leave is just about expired," Carter said. "We would encourage them to just secure yourself and please be safe.”

The representative also confirms reports of low evacuation numbers in comparison to storms in previous years.

“It does not appear that as many people have left this time as Matthew or previous storms," he said. "That is of concern to myself and the emergency management officials."

“To those people who have stayed, we would just plead with them, please be careful,” Carter said. “Don’t get out, just stay hunkered down and let’s get this through. Hopefully it will pass by quickly and we will have the least amount of damage.”

Despite the weakening wind speeds, there is still a real threat of danger to those along the coastal region.

“This isn’t our first rodeo," he said. "We’ve been here before and we know what to do. We’re preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.” 

On Wednesday, Gov. Brian Kemp expanded his state of emergency order to a total of 21 counties and has ordered evacuations for all counties east of I-95.