ATLANTA — UPDATE: Gov. Brian Kemp has declared a "state of emergency" for several Georgia counties ahead of Hurricane Dorian.
"Ahead of #Dorian, I've declared a State of Emergency in Brantley, Bryan, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce & Wayne Counties to assist with prep, response & recovery. OCGA 10-1-393.4 - prohibiting price-gouging - is now in effect," he wrote.
As 11Alive wrote last year, a state of emergency is declared to give the state flexibility. Declaring a state of emergency gives the governor and his emergency management team extra latitude to deal with a situation quickly.
This happens when a significant event may require state aid go along with local resources. It also speeds up assistance to communities in need, and allows additional resources that will help provide essential services, such as evacuations, shelters, and rescues, as needed.
Gov. Brian Kemp advised residents to "be ready to move very quickly" on Thursday, as Hurricane Dorian now projects to become a Category 4 storm and approaches southeast Georgia.
The governor was joined by state emergency management officials as they provided an outline of Georgia's readiness for Dorian. The southeastern portions of the state could be impacted by the hurricane over Labor Day weekend.
Kemp previously gave an update on Wednesday, where he said the state was well-prepared for the storm.
On Thursday he said Georgia "could see the impact along the coast" with storm surge and higher waves possible as early as Sunday night and into Monday morning.
Heavy rain and high winds are also likely.
The governor also cautioned motorists, noting that Florida - preparing for a direct hit in the northern part of the state - could send waves of evacuees into Georgia.
Kemp sounded an optimistic tone, overall.
"I wouldn't want anyone to cancel their plans," for Labor Day weekend, he said. "Last night I thought we might be telling people to think about changing their plans, I wouldn't want to tell people that right now."
Due to the holiday weekend, hotels and other rentals are already full. However, the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association said they have a resource page that will be updated where people can find phone numbers and websites for hotel brands operating in the state if you have to relocate due to the storm.
Hurricane Dorian is getting stronger, currently a Category 1 hurricane that could be up to Category 4 before making landfall, the latest projections on Thursday show.
While the entire eastern coast of Florida is currently within the cone of uncertainty, areas that include the entire Georgia coastline, as well as the Gulf Coastal areas of Florida, should monitor the progress of Dorian closely.
"I think the thing that makes it difficult for really all these areas is, we've been hit before. We don't need to be hit again, but we don't have much control over that," Kemp said Wednesday.
As of 11 a.m., Dorian's maximum sustained winds remained at 85 mph, making it a category 1 hurricane. The storm was about 220 miles north-northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico and was moving northwest at about 13 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend outwards up to 15 miles from the center; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 90 miles.
Forecasters believe Dorian will continue moving northwest as it moves away from Puerto Rico. By Friday night, it's expected to begin a west-northwestward motion and continue in the weekend. On that track, Dorian would approach the northwestern Bahamas on Saturday and move near or over portions of the northwest Bahamas on Sunday.
The storm could be a major category 4 hurricane as it approaches the Florida coast sometime late Sunday/early Monday, according to 11Alive StormTracker Wes Peery.
For more hotel information, visit the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association's website.
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