Georgia governor orders evacuation of Savannah, coast ahead of Irma

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Deal also expanded a state of emergency for 30 counties in the state's southeast and ordered up to 5,000 Georgia National Guard members to be on active duty.

Coastal Georgia is no longer under a hurricane watch. The Georgia Department of National Resources is opening all state parks and will admit people free of charge and can accommodate up to 10,000 people but no one will be turned away, said Commissioner Mark Williams.

Deal did have a stern warning for those people who ignore the mandatory evacuation order along the coast, saying those who stay are pretty much on their own once the storm hits.

"Stay tuned to local government information and AccuWeather.com for timing of the hurricane's progress, and remember it is not too early to prepare to leave; pack bags, gas up your auto and prepare your property now", Evan Myers, AccuWeather expert senior meteorologist and chief operating officer, said. But because of the size of the hurricane, Florida's east coast remains in danger, including from storm surges that will easily overwhelm some areas. Thirty counties, including Echols County, are now under a declaration that comes with additional state assistance.

Hurricane Irma's winds weakened slightly to 175 miles per hour, but those winds still make it a powerful category 5 storm. "I looked at the map and go, 'Atlanta looks reachable.' Y'know from where we are, driving" from Florida's gulf coast., Lozen said. Lawren Durham wrote. "A few of us up here have room and are willing to take in families/people that have nowhere to go!"

Glynn County officials continue to monitor the storm and advise the public to prepare for deteriorating weather conditions.

Governor Cooper urged continued caution and preparedness, despite Hurricane Irma's current path towards Tennessee.

Blue Ridge Parkway officials closed the scenic route through the N.C. mountains at 2 p.m. south of the Virginia line.

The biggest question seemed to be not whether he would issue an order, but what counties would be included - depending on the next forecasts.

Weakening Tropical Storm Irma will bump into a high pressure system in North Carolina later Monday, bringing some stormy weather to the Triangle.

Many folks from the coast come to metro Atlanta because they have people to stay with.

It left more than 20 people dead across the Caribbean and as it moved north over the Gulf of Mexico's bathtub-warm water of almost 90 degrees, it was expected to regain strength. Tropical storm-force winds are expected to begin Sunday evening.

Ed Putnam wasn't taking chances. While the latter blew into the Carolinas with wind gusts of up to 177 miles per hour, Irma's gusts are now clocking in at 210 miles per hour.

"I've seen the videos of what happened to those poor people on those islands", Putnam said.

"It does look like we're going have frequent enough gusts that it could knock down some weakly rooted trees, and perhaps some tree branches may get knocked down as well", she said. "Your life is more important than anything else".

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