What is a state of emergency? Georgia braces for Hurricane Michael

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9 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday expanded a state of emergency previously issued for 92 Georgia counties, adding 16 more to the list ahead of Hurricane Michael, which upgraded to a Category 4 major hurricane early Wednesday, according to Channel 2 Action News.

Michael is “closing in” on the Florida Panhandle and could bring potentially catastrophic storm surges, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center, which described the storm as “extremely dangerous” and “life-threatening.”

» RELATED: Gov. Deal expands state of emergency as 'very dangerous' Hurricane Michael menaces Georgia

Of Georgia’s 159 counties, 108 are under a state of emergency. Deal has activated 1,500 Georgia National Guard troops and urges residents along Michael’s path to take precautions.

“The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Michael,” Deal said in a statement Tuesday. “In light of the storm’s forecasted track, I encourage Georgians in the affected counties to be prepared and remain vigilant.”

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On Wednesday, he added, "We’re not accustomed to the magnitude of a hurricane such as this hitting” this part of southwest Georgia.”

A state of emergency is typically declared when an official believes a disaster may be imminent and severe enough to demand state agency assistance. This may mean rapid mobilization of resources and evacuation readiness. Once state aid isn’t required anymore, the governor may rescind the declaration.

During the period of emergency declaration, emergency management services and other private agencies typically ramp up their response measures. For example, the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency stated on its website that it is currently "coordinating with our state, local, public and private sector partners to ensure we are ready to respond."

» RELATED: Hurricane Michael: 'Extremely dangerous' Category 4 storm getting stronger

Oftentimes, private agencies like the American Red Cross will prepare for emergency response in the area as well.

Officials recommend residents put together a communications plan with family and loved ones during a state of emergency, especially if disaster strikes when you’re not together. It’s also important to keep a Ready Kit in hand, one that includes sufficient water, non-perishable food, medications, important documents and other items needed for approximately three days.

» RELATED: All eyes on Hurricane Michael as it heads toward Florida, Georgia this week

Be sure to look out for the most current weather information through the National Hurricane Center and Channel 2 Action News.

» RELATED: Hurricane safety: 15 tips that could save your life during a storm

Find more readiness tips at gema.ga.gov.