Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency in six counties along Georgia’s coast in advance of Hurricane Irma.
Those counties include Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty, and McIntosh, according to the press release.
Jason Buelterman, the mayor of Tybee Island in Chatham County, said the city is already ordering sandbags and removing trash cans off its beaches.
“I mean this storm's a monster,” Buelterman said. “We're already seeing what it's doing to the folks in the Caribbean. We're, right now just hoping for the best obviously and planning for the worst.”
Buelterman said city and county officials could talk about the possibility of evacuation in the next couple of days.
Counties farther inland, like Lowndes County in south Georgia, are already starting to feel the impact. Lowndes officials say hotels there are already booked up by people evacuating Florida.
Paige Dukes, who is with Lowndes County Emergency Management, said the county is now asking people to keep heading north.
"Historically what we will see before this is over is the rooms will book from the Georgia-Florida line north of Chattanooga, Tennessee," Dukes said. She added residents had also reported gas and food shortages but chalks it up to supply and demand. She said stores and stations have already restocked but reminds people to only take what they need.
“I’ve issued an executive order prohibiting price gouging and waiving rules and regulations for motor vehicles transporting supplies, equipment, personnel, goods and services associated with disaster assistance and relief,” Deal said in a statement.
In addition to preventing price gouging related to the hurricane, Deal’s executive order also “ensures aid for the six counties potentially impacted by this catastrophic storm,” Deal said in the statement.
In Florida, some counties have ordered evacuations beginning Thursday, according to the Miami Herald. At the same time, emergency shelters will be opening in counties like Broward, where evacuations will occur.
In response, the Atlanta Motor Speedway will be opening its RV and tent campgrounds to evacuees free of charge, according to a release posted on the venue’s website.
Those seeking refuge at the speedway will have access to hot showers and restrooms at the Rinnai Shower Station camper bath house. The Atlanta Motor Speedway is located in Hampton, Ga., outside of the state of the emergency area.
Forecasters said it's still too early to tell what parts of Georgia Irma will hit. But according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, forecast models show the system “pushing the system further east, which could mean stronger effects for the Georgia coast.”
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WABE digital producer Al Such contributed to this report.