Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys this morning as a Category 4 storm and continues its westerly shift. It is expected to approach the Georgia line Monday afternoon, but will weaken as it travels up the west coast of Florida.
It is expected to be Category 1 storm or lower as it passes through central Georgia, with the center moving to the west of Macon. Bryan County and Coastal Georgia, however, remain under a tropical storm warning. Rainfall could reach 10 inches and flooding may occur due to higher than usual high tides. Winds are expected to reach gusts in excess of 50 mph that can knock down trees, taking out power lines and blocking roads.
Gov. Nathan Deal has placed 94 counties, including Bryan, under a state of emergency and ordered a mandatory evacuation that took effect Saturday for everyone living east of I-95. Contraflow on I-16 began at 8 a.m. Saturday and ended at 4 p.m.
As of now, Pembroke is not under either a mandatory or voluntary evacuation, although officials there said they are continually monitoring the storm.
Officials are asking those who evacuated not to return until after the storm passes and damage can be evaluated. People who stayed behind are being asked to stay off the roads, particularly during and right after the storm, to give first responders, clean-up crews and power companies easier access.
Unlike with Hurricane Matthew, law enforcement right now does not plan to place roadblocks at the entrances to South Bryan County. Anyone attempting to enter, however, who does not have a Bryan County license plate will be turned away.
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.
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.