Governor Nathan Deal just completed a press conference at the Capitol explaining the current situation with Hurricane Matthew, which is expected to strike the Georgia Coast as a category 4 or 5 hurricane sometime late Friday afternoon. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for the six counties east of i-95, and voluntary evacuations for 24 counties west of I-95.
The press conference, which starts at about 5:45 in the video, includes statements from Deal, Georgia Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Butterworth, Mark Williams with the Department of Natural Resources, Russell McMurry with the Georgia DOT, Gen. Joe Jarrard with the Georgia National Guard, and Georgia State Patrol Commander Mark McDonough.
Georgia Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue are encouraging all Georgians to follow safety procedures and prepare for the hurricane.
“Hurricane Matthew is showing signs of delivering potentially serious damage to the eastern coastline of Georgia,” said Senator Isakson. “I urge coastal Georgians to take heed of the warnings and evacuate as necessary, while remaining calm and patient in difficult circumstances. My prayers go out to the medical personnel, emergency workers, first responders and those who must remain behind. I applaud Governor Deal for early evacuation and emergency mobilization efforts in our state and am working closely with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency as the storm moves closer to Georgia. Senator Perdue and I will work together in the Senate and do all we can to support the efforts of federal, state and local governments as they respond to this storm.”
“Hurricane Matthew is a life-threatening storm that has the potential to impact many Georgians,” said Senator Perdue. “Parts of our state are directly in the storm’s path. For your safety and for the safety of our first responders, take this storm seriously and evacuate high-risk areas immediately. Governor Deal, Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management, and the Red Cross have done a great job preparing for Hurricane Matthew and will continue to assist Georgians as the situation develops. My team stands ready to help, but the most important thing right now is to heed these warnings and move to a safe area as soon as possible.”
The senators compiled a list of best practices for dealing with the storm.
In accordance with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security’s hurricane preparedness recommendations, Isakson and Perdue urged Georgians to follow these safety precautions if a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
- Listen to the radio or TV or download the Ready Georgia app.
- Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
- Learn how to keep food safe in an emergency.
- Turn off propane tanks.
- Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
- Moor your boat if time permits.
- Have a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
As of Thursday morning, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has ordered a mandatory evacuation of six coastal Georgia counties: Bryan, Chatham, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn and Camden. Georgians directed to evacuate should be sure to follow local authority’s instructions to do so. In addition, Georgians outside of these counties but within the storm’s wake should evacuate under the following conditions:
- If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure – such shelters are particularly hazardous during a hurricane no matter how well fastened to the ground.
- If you live in a high-rise building – hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
- If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an island waterway.
If you are unable to evacuate, go to a safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
- Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level. If flooding occurs, be prepared to take shelter on a floor above the flooding.
- Avoid elevators.
Isakson and Perdue urged evacuees to bring water, non-perishable snacks and emergency supplies for their journeys, be aware of fellow travelers and make careful assessments before returning home.
Before evacuating, Georgians should:
- Move electronics, valuables and important documents to a safe place.
- Roll up area rugs where possible and store them on higher floors or elevations.
- Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets may be under water.
- If you incur expenses due to protecting your home in preparation for coming storms and flooding – such as purchasing sandbags – you may be able to file a claim against your National Flood Insurance Program flood policy for reimbursement. Call your insurance agent to discuss your coverage and learn more.
The American Red Cross has available a list of locations where evacuees can seek safe shelter, hot meals and essential relief supplies on their website here: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery/find-an-open-shelter.
After the hurricane, local authorities may not be able to immediately provide information about what is happening and what you should do. Residents should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch local TV or check the internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
In addition, these guidelines are recommended for staying safe after Hurricane Matthew:
- Stay out of flood waters, if possible. The water may be contaminated or electrically charged. However, should you find yourself trapped in your vehicle in rising water get out immediately and seek higher ground.
- Be alert for tornadoes and flooding. If you see a funnel cloud or if local authorities issue a tornado warning take shelter underground or in an interior room away from windows. If waters are rising quickly or local authorities issue a flood or flash flood warning, seek higher ground.
- Stay away from downed power lines to avoid the risk of electric shock or electrocution.
- Do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe. Even after the hurricane and once flood waters recede, roads may be weakened and could collapse. Buildings may be unstable, and drinking water may be contaminated. Use common sense and exercise caution.