As rain began to fall on Georgia’s coast from Hurricane Dorian, Gov. Brian Kemp implored those who did not evacuate to stay vigilant and safe as state officials were making final preparations for the recovery phase of the storm.
Forecasters have warned that storm surge and high tides could create severe flooding across the low-lying barrier islands and coastal region, and the governor has reversed the contraflow of traffic on I-16 to allow first responders and other recovery efforts to access affected areas.
In a Wednesday briefing, Kemp was joined by acting Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Peter Gaynor, who said that his agency was prepared to offer assistance and support to state and local officials.
“Storms like this are locally executed, state managed and federally supported, and the most important part is with individuals that are prepared,” he said. “If all that is working, it really turns into a great response."
He said that across several states there are 10,000 Federal and National Guard troops activated, 40,000 line workers for electrical restoration and 1,250 tractor-trailer loads of food and water ready to go once the storm passes.
State of Emergency
In Georgia, Kemp authorized up to 2,000 National Guardsmen to be deployed to assist the GEMA's cleanup efforts. On Wednesday, Kemp added nine more counties to his state of emergency declaration.
Early this morning, I expanded the State of Emergency to nine more inland counties ahead of Hurricane #Dorian to facilitate storm response and recovery. There are now 21 counties under an emergency declaration. Read Executive Order 09.04.19.01 > https://t.co/JifpgpbbyS. #gapol pic.twitter.com/C8lEKk8YaS
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) September 4, 2019
The state of emergency will be in effect until Sept. 9, and during this time it is illegal to price gouge on items that are necessary for preparation and recovery from the storm. According to state law, businesses can face fines between $2,000 to $15,000 if they are caught.
Georgia Department of Transportation commissioner Russell McMurry said restoring I-16 to its normal traffic patterns doest not supersede evacuation orders and warnings from the state.
“This is not a welcome mat to say it’s time to head back to the coast,” he said.
McMurry also laid out guidelines for reentry into affected areas, including the inspection of flooded roadways and bridges.
Kemp reiterated his support for the state’s evacuation and recovery plans, saying he wouldn't say and that Georgia did "too much, too soon" in preparation.
“In this game, you do not want to be slow to the preparations or slow to the response,” he said. “And you know, as the guy that is making these decisions, I’m relying on this team that’s battle tested.”
He also added that while the early orders to evacuate residents who live east of I-95 may be frustrating to some people, Georgia has been very lucky with the ultimate path of the storm, which will not make direct landfall here.