As Hurricane Matthew heads towards Georgia, Governor Nathan Deal has issued mandatory evacuations that affect about 50,000 of the state’s residents.
In Chatham County, Tybee Island was issued a mandatory evacuation effective Wednesday afternoon. And on Thursday morning, added to that list of mandatory evacuations were the following counties:
“The National Hurricane Center predicts Hurricane Matthew will intensify as it moves from the Bahamas up the Florida Coast,” Governor Deal said in a statement. “As a result, I am now ordering a mandatory evacuation for areas east of Interstate-95. I also encourage the voluntary evacuation of residents in low-lying, coastal areas west of I-95. Shelters are opening now in these areas. To assist Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMHSA) Director Jim Butterworth in coordinating and implementing traffic flow preparations, I’ve activated 45 members of the Georgia National Guard. They will assist state and local public safety and transportation officials. I urge Georgians in the affected areas to remain calm, be prepared and make informed, responsible decisions as we continue to monitor Hurricane Matthew’s path.”
Hurricane Matthew is currently in the Bahamas and is expected to reach Florida by Thursday evening. It is likely to be a Category 4 storm at that time, and although it’s unclear if the hurricane will make a direct hit, both the Florida and Georgia coastline could see eight feet of storm surge, according to The Weather Channel.
President Obama urged Americans on Wednesday to take evacuation orders seriously.
“If there is an evacuation order in your community, you need to take it seriously,” he said. “You can always rebuild, you can always repair property; you cannot restore a life if it is lost.”