Hurricane Irma hit Cuba this morning as a Category 5 storm and is heading toward the Florida Keys. Forecasts show it turning north and heading up the center of Florida with a slight westward tilt, approaching the Georgia state line early Monday afternoon.
It is expected to be Category 1 storm as it passes through central Georgia, with Bryan County on the far eastern edge of the cone. Rainfall here, however, could get to 10 inches and flooding may occur due to higher than usual high tides. At its western edge, Irma will cover most of Alabama and stretch into parts of Mississippi.
Reports say that I-95 in South Carolina heading toward I-26 is moving at about 10 mph. Gov. Nathan Deal has placed 94 counties, including Bryan, under a state of emergency and ordered a mandatory evacuation beginning today for everyone living east of I-95. Contraflow on I-16 began this morning with all four lanes westbound.
As of now, Pembroke is not under either a mandatory or voluntary evacuation, although officials there said they are continually monitoring the storm.
Bryan County Emergency Services has set up its mobile command center at the Richmond Hill Fire Department’s main station, and is operating its main command center out of Station No. 7 on Highway 204 near Ellabell.
Officials continue to encourage residents to sign up for CodeRED to receive text, email, phone calls and social media alerts regarding conditions. You can sign up at https://public.coderedweb.com/cne/en-US/BFAE755A2AFA.
No curfew has been declared yet, although one was issued during Hurricane Matthew last October.
Publix in Richmond Hill plans to remain open until 2 p.m., while Harveys in Pembroke said they will be open until 10 p.m.
Bryan County Schools said there will be no classes Monday or Tuesday, and all extracurricular activities during the closure have been canceled.
You can find power outage information at the following websites: Canoochee EMC (http://outage.canoocheeemc.com:8889/), Coastal Electric (http://oms.coastalemc.com/OMSWebMap/OMSWebMap.htm?clientKey=undefined) and Georgia Power (http://outagemap.georgiapower.com/external/default.html?hp=tm_po_view_outage_map).
Residents on private water systems should check with their utility company about potential shut offs. There are no plans to shut off municipal water systems, but service could be impacted by power outages.
Information on shelters can be found at http://www.gema.ga.gov/Web%20Content/GEMA_HS%20Shelter%20Information.pdf.