As Hurricane Florence menaces the coasts of North and South Carolina, evacuees are expected to begin arriving in Georgia to shelter from what the National Hurricane Center said was a “life-threatening” storm.
“I think we’re looking at a potentially massive evacuation from this particular storm,” said Marshal Shepherd, the director of the University of Georgia’s atmospheric science program, according to GPB. “This is going to, unfortunately, play out to be a long-term event. I fear not just when the storm makes landfall, but several days afterward.”
On Monday, South Carolina governor Henry McMaster ordered the evacuation of the entire South Carolina coast as the Category 4 storm approached. It is expected to make landfall sometime between Thursday and Friday, according to National Weather Service models.
“(Florence) is particularly big, particularly strong and without getting into all of the details ... there’s nothing stopping it,” McMaster said, according to the Island Packet. “And when it hits the Gulf Stream in warmer water, it’s going to (intensify) even more ... ”
In Georgia, hotels are expected to fill up quickly. Many hotels around the coast, such as those in Savannah and Brunswick, are either sold out or filling fast, according to booking websites.
The River Falls at the Gorge Campground in Rabun County in north Georgia has already seen evacuees arrive, and expects to receive many more, WSB reported. The owners told the station they began receiving calls asking for reservations over the weekend.
Some areas like Bibb County in central Georgia are considering opening shelters, which many counties and cities did to house thousands of evacuees from Hurricane Irma almost exactly one year ago. So far, Bibb County officials are watching and waiting but have not opened a shelter yet, WMAZ reported
“We’ve positioned some of our supplies just in case, so if we do need to open, we’re ready,” said Spencer Hawkins of the county’s emergency operations center, according to the station.
Other areas closer to the Carolina border are following the same protocol, and are prepared to act if needed. In Augusta, Ga., emergency workers said they would open shelters if the situation calls for it, the Augusta Chronicle reported.
“The numbers can be uncertain because you never really know how many people are going to stay with family and friends, the number that are going to go and stay in hotels, the number that decide not to evacuate,” said Daryl Davis, Aiken County Emergency Services Director, according to the paper. “That number is always a guessing game, but we are always prepared to receive any and all evacuees that would leave from the coast and come here to shelter in Aiken County.”
There is also the possibility of extended power outages across the affected areas in the Carolinas, and a fleet of 100 electric crews from Georgia are prepared to move into South Carolina to help get power restored, the Aiken Standard reported.
But even though many Georgians out of harm’s way are preparing to help others, some residents, especially along the coastal islands, are preparing their own homes for any possibility, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“We’ve got propane, water, a generator, shot records for the pets if we need to board them, and we’ve got charcoal if the power goes out and we need to cook the food in the refrigerator,” one resident of Darien, Ga., said, according to the paper. “We’ve got everything ready to go just in case we have to change gears.”