Georgia's Governor Orders Mandatory Evacuation of Coastal Areas, Including the City of Savannah: Traffic Jams as Residents Flee Hurricane Irma
September 7, 2017
Hurricane Irma has the potential of affecting every major city in Florida.
National Weather Service's forecast for probable path of Hurricane Irma.
Georgia's governor has ordered a mandatory evacuation starting on Saturday from the state's Atlantic coast ahead of Hurricane Irma. That includes the city of Savannah, home to nearly 150,000 people.
Gov. Nathan Deal issued the evacuation Thursday for all areas east of Interstate 95, all of Chatham County and some areas west of the interstate. He also expanded a state of emergency to 30 counties.
It comes as mandatory evacuations in Florida continue to multiply.
Deal's order authorizes about 5,000 Georgia National Guard members to be on active duty to help people respond and recover.
Georgia hasn't been hit by a hurricane with winds Category 3 or higher since 1898.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, also declared a state of emergency. A major strike there would be the first in nearly 28 years.
The head of FEMA said on Thursday that Hurricane Irma will have a 'truly devastating' impact when it slams into southern coastal areas of the United States this weekend.
Evacuation zone on the Georgia coast.
Evacuation zones in Miami. Only Zone A and parts of Zone B are under current evacuation orders.
FEMA chief Brock Long said people in Florida and other states must heed evacuation orders as the Category Five hurricane surges towards the US after causing death and destruction in the Caribbean.
The FEMA chief said Irma would be only the fourth Category Five hurricane to hit the United States and the first since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
'Bottom line is the majority of people along the coast have never experienced a major hurricane like this. It will be truly devastating,' he told CNN.
'The entire southeastern United States better wake up and pay attention,' he added.
Evacuations have already started in the Florida Keys and parts of Miami, and officials say residents should be ready for more in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the location of two nuclear plants in the line of the storm are raising fears of a fallout similar to the Fukushima disaster. While the Turkey Point and St. Lucie power plants are right on the water, officials say they are designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and flooding.
By Thursday morning, the center of the storm was about 110 miles (180 kilometers) north of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and was moving west-northwest near 17 mph (28 kph).
The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted Irma would remain at Category 4 or 5 for the next day or two as it passes just to the north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Thursday, nears the Turks & Caicos and parts of the Bahamas by Thursday night and skirts Cuba on Friday night into Saturday.
It will then likely head north toward Florida, where people were rushing to board up homes, fill cars with gasoline and find a route to safety.
Mayors in Miami-Dade and Broward counties issued mandatory evacuation orders starting Thursday morning for barrier islands and low-lying mainland areas in the metro area of 6 million, where forecasters predict the hurricane with winds of 180 mph could strike by early Sunday.
Miami-Dade Mayor Philip Levine called Irma a 'nuclear hurricane' as he said once again that everyone in the mandatory evacuation zones 'must leave'.
'I'll do anything in my power to convince [people] this is a very serious storm. This is a nuclear hurricane. They should leave the beach, they must leave the beach,' he said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has strongly urged his citizens to evacuate if they are asked to do so by local officials, but said the evacuations will not be enforced. That means they won't be going door to door and arresting people who fail to evacuate.
The mandatory evacuation is the first for Miami since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
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