Bulloch County is preparing for possible effects from Hurricane Michael, which was barreling toward the Florida Panhandle Monday.
Road crews and other public safety employees are preparing for the storm, and the Bulloch County Emergency Operations Center will be ready for action, said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn.
As of Monday, the National Weather Service indicated heavy rains and strong winds from Michael were expected to increase along the northeastern Gulf Coast. (For The Associated Press story, click here.)
The storm "has rapidly intensified into a Category 1 hurricane, and further steady to rapid strengthening is expected during the next 24 to 36 hours," Wynn said Monday afternoon. "The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center has Michael as a dangerous major hurricane making landfall along the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday."
Tropical storm and hurricane watches had already been issued for much of inland south Georgia Monday, he said.
The storm is expected to "weaken as it moves through Georgia, but significant impacts are still expected across south and central Georgia between midday Wednesday and midday Thursday," he said.
Residents in the area may experience tropical storm force sustained winds and hurricane force wind gusts.
"This could cause trees to fall and power outages to occur," Wynn said.
Rainfall may begin as early as Tuesday, with up to 6 inches possible. Tornadoes are also possible along the right side of the storm.
The American Red Cross is preparing for the storm as well, said Ashley Henyan, the regional communications manager for southeast Georgia.
"The American Red Cross is working around-the-clock with government and emergency partners to prepare for Hurricane Michael," she said. "Preliminary forecasts call for impact in the Florida Panhandle, then a diagonal path of tropical wind and rain through Georgia, from Bainbridge to Augusta. Localized flooding and strong winds that cause downed trees and powerlines are possible."
Wynn also warned of downed trees, flash flooding and possible power outages.
The American Red Cross suggests preparing for the storm by stocking up with an emergency supply kit with nonperishable food that can be eaten without cooking, bottled water, medications, first aid, flashlights and batteries.
Diapers, formula and other personal needs should be stocked as well, Henyan said.
Wynn reminds people to take care of pets, making sure they have adequate shelter, and warned against going out in the weather unless absolutely necessary.
The Statesboro Herald will provide updates as the storm draws closer.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.