Gov. Nathan Deal expanded a state of emergency Wednesday to an additional 16 counties and activated 1,500 Georgia National Guard troops as a “very, very dangerous” Hurricane Michael menaced much of the state.
The governor urged residents along the storm’s path to take precautions as he announced that 108 counties of the state’s 159 counties are now covered by his state of emergency declaration.
“We haven’t cried wolf too often, so when we say this is a serious matter, we hope people will listen,” said Deal. "We’re not accustomed to the magnitude of a hurricane such as this hitting” this part of southwest Georgia.”
This won’t, he added, be a “simple walk away from it with no serious damage” type of storm.
The state’s congressional delegation has also asked President Donald Trump to declare parts of Georgia as a federal disaster area to free up resources. Deal said he’s been contacted by several federal agencies who have promised their assistance.
At a Category 4 designation, Michael will be the strongest storm to ever hit the Florida Panhandle since reliable record-keeping began, according to Channel 2 Action News. It is expected to make landfall Wednesday and churn through Georgia later Wednesday and Thursday.
The governor said he’s not putting in place a mandatory evacuation because “we trust the judgment of Georgians” to do what’s best for them.
“They should take whatever preparations are available for them to prepare for the storm and have supplies on hand, to weather the duration of the aftermath of the storm when it passes through,” he said, listing shelters that will be open for those who choose to leave.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to help them,” he added. “Power loss is going to be one of the huge concerns for trying to get back to normalcy.”
The Category 4 storm is making a beeline for the Florida Panhandle and is expected to bring a “life-threatening storm surge,” hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall, according to the National Hurricane Center.