How Ga., S.C. leaders are getting ready for approaching storm

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 4:12 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2022 at 6:23 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for all counties in the Peach State in preparation for Hurricane Ian’s impact later in the week.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, meanwhile, gave an update at 4 p.m. Tuesday on how the Palmetto State is preparing.

Although the remnants of the storm are only expected to reach the CSRA in a much-weakened state, we’re expected to feel some impact here later in the week. Many school districts are altering the football schedule so games won’t be played Friday night, and some are even changing class schedules.

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Also, the University of South Carolina-S.C. State football game will be played Thursday instead of Saturday.

The storm on Tuesday tore into western Cuba as a major hurricane and left 1 million people without electricity, then churned on a collision course with Florida over warm Gulf waters expected to strengthen it into a catastrophic Category 4 storm.

As Ian moves through Georgia beginning on Friday and exiting on Sunday, heavy rainfall and damaging winds will be possible throughout the Peach State, Kemp’s office said. His state of emergency will go into effect at 7 a.m. Thursday and expire at midnight Friday.

Kemp’s declaration of an emergency follows his activation of a state emergency coordination center Monday morning, ensuring all relevant state, local, and federal agencies are closely coordinating on storm preparations and response.

Ian is now a Category 3 hurricane moving north at roughly 10 mph with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. Further strengthening is expected, with Ian forecast to reach Category 4 status before slowly weakening Tuesday night and during its expected landfall tomorrow and Thursday over west-central Florida.

Starting Friday, Ian will likely impact southeastern Georgia as a tropical storm or tropical depression with heavy rainfall.

Although there is still uncertainty about its ultimate path on Friday and into the weekend, sustained winds of over 40 mph will be possible across all of Georgia on Friday and Saturday.

Damaging winds will be possible statewide, even well away from the center of the storm, and downed trees and powerlines are possible statewide on Friday and Saturday. Widespread rainfall of 2 to 4 inches is also possible statewide, with 4 to 6 inches or more forecast in southeast Georgia. Flash flooding, power outages, and other dangerous situations are possible, especially in southeast Georgia.

Kemp urges all Georgians to remain weather-alert and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families, and to visit https://gema.georgia.gov/hurricanes for tips.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock , D-Ga., urged Georgians to take the necessary precautions to keep themselves, their loved ones and community safe from inclement weather events.

“Georgians, especially in south Georgia and along our coast, must remain vigilant as Hurricane Ian gets closer to our state,” Warnock said. “Remember it is crucial during these moments that you stay calm, listen to local officials and take the utmost precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

He said Georgians shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to his office if he can offer any assistance.

Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., urged FEMA Deputy Administrator Erik Hooks to make all necessary preparations to protect Georgia and help homeowners and businesses in the aftermath if a federal disaster is declared for the state.

In South Carolina

Gov. Henry McMaster was joined by state emergency management leaders on Tuesday afternoon to talk about Hurricane Ian and its impacts on South Carolina.

“We are fully prepared,” McMaster said during the news conference.

He said the state is closely monitoring the storm and working closely with emergency managers on the local level.

Ken Stenson, the director of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, said his team started conducting daily coordination calls with local emergency management divisions to identify any possible issues and unmet needs. Stenson said as of right now there are no unmet needs but there is a logistics system in place should the need arise.

He added that this storm is not just a coastal event and impacts will be felt throughout South Carolina. With that being said, Stenson did state that people living in low-lying or coastal areas should have a plan in place before the storm hits.

Office of Regulatory Staff Executive Director Nanette Edwards said that utility crews are anticipating some sporadic outages due to Hurricane Ian’s impacts. She said that there are also utility crews from other states that are on standby in case they are needed in South Carolina or other states that are impacted by the storm.

As for fuel supplies, Edwards said South Carolina is in good shape.

During the news conference, McMaster and leaders echoed the same sentiment and that is to be prepared and review your safety plans that you have in place for hurricanes and tropical storms. They said don’t focus on the category of the hurricane, but the forecast and the impact.

The official 2022 South Carolina Hurricane Guide is available in English and Spanish at scemd.org.