Hurricane Dorian was shifting westward, moving closer to the United States coast late Tuesday afternoon and disturbing earlier predictions that the storm may move away to the northeast, said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn.
However, although Savannah and South Carolina are "back in the cone," no one yet knows what the hurricane's next move will be, he said.
"For now, we are preparing for a (Hurricane) Matthew scenario."
Still a strong Category 2 hurricane, Dorian was clocked at over 110 mph winds, moving slowly at 5 mph in a northwestern direction, against the previously expected turn to the northeast. Wynn said Bulloch County could see bands of heavy rain and high, tropical storm force winds, causing possible power outages and damages.
Bulloch County Commissioner Roy Thompson addressed the planned emergency response by county crews, outlining each department's role in the plans, Wynn said Tuesday.
The storm is still expected to graze the Atlantic coast but move closer to the mainland. In anticipation of possible severe weather, Bulloch County Schools marketing director Hayley Greene said schools will close Wednesday, and school officials will decide by 7 p.m. Wednesday whether schools will also close Thursday.
All three campuses of Georgia Southern University will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, as will East Georgia State College. The closures include sponsored events.
As evacuees flee from Savannah and other coastal areas, shelters and hotels are filling quickly. Justin Samples, marketing director for the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Tuesday that area hotels are primarily full.
"We have some cancellations that are immediately filled with new reservations," he said.
His office constantly checks with local hotels, and the availability constantly changes, with most hotels staying full, he said.
Wynn advises residents to stock at least three days' worth of nonperishable foods, clean water and medications and to be prepared for possible power outages, flooding and road closures. If Dorian stays to a northwestern track, Bulloch could see 2 to 4 inches of rainfall, he said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.