One of the biggest storms ever coming out of the Atlantic Ocean is slowly approaching the United States, and residents in Georgia are being urged to take precautions to ensure their safety.
Hurricane Irma, which has sustained Category 5 status since Tuesday, is set to make landfall some time this weekend, forecasters say. While its exact path isn’t yet known, the latest models show it starting in the southern portion of Florida and moving up the east side of the state and into Georgia.
Because of the latest updates, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Thursday expanded a state of emergency that initially involved six counties to 30 of them. That declaration includes Chatham County.
Deal said in a statement that he made the declaration to ensure everybody is prepared for Irma before it makes landfall. He encouraged those who live in coastal areas to evacuate “as soon as possible,” adding that a mandatory evacuation will be in order for Chatham County beginning Saturday.
“All areas east of I-95 and some areas west of I-95 that could be impacted by this catastrophic hurricane and storm surge,” Deal said. “GEMA/HS continues leading our preparedness efforts as we coordinate with federal, state and local officials to safely evacuate the coastal areas, provide public shelter and minimize the disruption of traffic. Finally, I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in Hurricane Irma’s path.”
For the latest updates on Irma, click here.
With an evacuation looming, those in Irma’s path are being encouraged to first make emergency preparations and secondly know their evacuation zone. Check below for a map showing the evacuation zones and maps when the order goes into effect Saturday.
Those without a place to evacuate to have a number of options, including the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Henry County. The racetrack opened Thursday for those seeking temporary refuge, and people will have free access to showers and restrooms, a track official told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
In addition to that, there are a number of shelters open across the state of Georgia. Check below to for a list of them, according to WGXA News:
Red Cross shelter – East Macon Recreation Center, 31217 Ocmulgee E. Boulevard. Macon, GA.
Red Cross shelter – North Macon Community Center. 815 N. Macon Park Drive. Macon, GA.
Red Cross shelter – Hephzibah Childrens Home, 6601 Zebulon Road. Macon, GA.
Red Cross Shelter – Central Square Complex, 216 S. Madison Avenue. Douglas, GA.
Red Cross shelter – First Baptist Church, 400 South Main St. Moultrie, GA.
Good Samaritan resting shelter – First United Methodist Church, 302 East 12th Avenue. Cordele, GA.
Red Cross Shelter – Swainsboro Recreation Department, 632 McLeod Bridge Rd. Swainsboro, GA.
Good Samaritan shelter – Atlanta Motor Speedway family campground, 1500 Tara Place. Hampton, GA.
Red Cross shelter – Jefferson Recreation Department, 1377 Ga. Highway 17 S. Louisville, GA.
Red Cross shelter – Dublin High School, 1127 Hillcrest Pky. Dublin, GA.
Red Cross shelter – West Laurens High School, 3692 Highway 247. Dexter, GA.
Good Samaritan shelter – First Independent Methodist Church, 1357 Claxton Dairy Road. Dublin, GA.
Red Cross shelter – Park Avenue United Methodist Church, 100 E. Park Avenue. Valdosta, GA.
Red Cross shelter – Peach County Fire Station #6, 1770 Highway 341. Fort Valley, GA.
Red Cross shelter – Byron Fire Station #1, 6711 Peach Parkway, Highway 49. Byron, GA.
Good Samaritan shelter – Hawkinsville Church of God, 78 Liberty Street. Hawkinsville, GA.
Red Cross shelter – Butler High School, 2011 Lumpkin Road. Augusta, GA.
Red Cross shelter – Henry H. Brigham Community Center, 2463 Golden Camp Road. Augusta, GA.
Red Cross shelter – Glenn Hills High School, 2840 Glenn Hills Drive. Augusta, GA.
Red Cross shelter – Josey High School, 1701 15th Street. Augusta, GA.
Red Cross shelter – Laney High School, 1339 Laney Walker Boulevard. Augusta, GA.
Red Cross shelter – Academy of Richmond County, 910 Russell Street. Augusta, GA.
Red Cross shelter – Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church, 1330 Monte Sano Avenue. Augusta, GA
Good Samaritan shelter – Southside Baptist Church, 47 Parker Street. McRae, GA.
Good Samaritan shelter – McRae First Baptist Church, 26 W College St. McRae, GA.
Red Cross shelter – Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Gressette Gym, 2802 Moore Highway. Tifton, GA.
Red Cross Shelter – Waycross Middle School, 700 Central Avenue. Waycross, GA.