Hurricane Florence isn’t behaving as expected. Earlier predictions had the southeast Georgia region in the safe zone, but an expected dip southward prompted Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to declare a state of emergency in all 159 counties.
In a statement issued by his office Wednesday, Deal said, “The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Florence. In light of the storm’s forecasted southward track after making landfall, I encourage Georgians to be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas.”
The storm is still expected to make landfall along the North Carolina coast, but then take a hard curve southward.
The National Weather Service Charleston office issued a “hurricane local statement” for parts of south Georgia, including Bulloch, Jenkins, Candler, Screven and Evans counties.
The statement said Hurricane Florence is an “extremely dangerous” storm that “continues to approach the Southeast U.S. coast. Much uncertainty remains regarding the progress of Florence, so exact impacts across southeast South Carolina and southeast Georgia are uncertain, but confidence is increasing in potentially significant impacts.”
Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn spoke to the Statesboro Herald Wednesday after a 5 p.m. conference call regarding the hurricane.
We could experience tropical storm winds by late Thursday through Sunday.Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn
Florence “has weakened some but is expected to strengthen,” he said, adding that predictions say the massive storm, now a Category 3 and over 500 miles wide, could curve around after making landfall and head southward.
At Category 3, winds are at 120 mph. Wynn said the Bulloch County area can expect rainfall over the next few days, increasing in chance by Saturday.
“We could experience tropical storm winds by late Thursday through Sunday,” he said.
Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Becky Davis said hotels are filling fast with people fleeing the storm, but there are still some rooms available. A list of available rooms can be found at www.visitstatesboro.org.
The National Weather Service (www.noaa.gov) warns residents to be prepared for winds that could cause damages to buildings, uprooted trees, power outages and blocked roads.
Wynn suggests stocking up on water and nonperishable foods, emergency supplies and medications in case of power failure, and to tie down or secure loose items in the yard that could be blown about by the winds.
The storm, like all hurricanes, is unpredictable, and Wynn said the Bulloch County Emergency Management Agency will continue to monitor its progress.
The Bulloch County area can expect anywhere from 4 to 6 inches of rainfall over the weekend, he said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.