Albany officials: Be inside by 5 p.m. today

With Hurricane Irma projected to arrive at Albany’s door Monday afternoon, officials are urging residents to decide whether they’ll stay or go by 5 p.m. today. If the answer is stay, they want everyone sheltered at that time.

The Albany area in Dougherty County, which still shows scars from a series of tornadoes that tore through in January, could take strong winds and flooding from Irma, according to the latest in a series of shifting forecasts.

“We’ve seen this pivot. We need to be able to pivot as well,” county chairman Chris Cohilas said in a news conference, which was streamed live on Facebook.

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He said residents who stay in shelters could expect to be there 24 hours. He also asked the local faith community to continue offering up their spaces for evacuees.

Jenna Wirtz, a deputy in the county emergency management agency, said 5 p.m. is “a very strong recommendation,” though not an official curphew.

But she stressed that, once sustained winds of 40 mph hit, emergency workers will be pulled off the street. At that point, 911 will still be taking calls, though the responses will be delayed.

“As soon as the wind speeds are safe enough for first responders to get to people, they will be back out on the street,” Wirtz said. “At 30 miles an hour it’s very difficult for a person to walk upright. Your car is no different. It’s just a bigger target for the wind.”

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