Georgia governor declares a state of emergency as Florence nears

Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for all of Georgia on Wednesday as the latest projections showed Hurricane Florence taking a potential left-turn toward the northern half of the state.

The governor's order came shortly after the latest National Hurricane Center update showed the storm edging toward the Carolinas - and then possibly churning over Georgia as it loses energy.

Earlier Wednesday, President Donald Trump warned Georgians to "be ready, be prepared" for the Category 4 storm as it neared the coast.

It’s too early to tell what course Florence will take, but state officials are particularly concerned about the high winds and torrential rain that could soak Georgia even if Florence makes landfall further up the coast.

The storm, which forecasters have warned could be catastrophic, is expected to make landfall as early as Thursday evening. More than 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under evacuation orders, and officials warn of devastating flooding, lashing rains and winds and sweeping storm surges.

While other coastal states declared states of emergency earlier this week, Deal’s office followed suit after updated forecasts showed Florence’s path changing.

The governor said state officials were staging emergency equipment across the state to prepare for the fallout. His order also temporarily relaxed rules for commercial truck drivers delivering petroleum or emergency supplies.

“The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Florence,” said Deal, who encouraged residents "to be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas.”