Gov. Nathan Deal has expanded the state of emergency regarding Hurricane Irma across 30 Georgia counties, due to a recommendation from several agencies, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
Additionally, Deal has ordered a mandatory evacuation starting Saturday from Chatham County encompassing all areas east of Interstate 95 and some areas west of the interstate.
“I encourage all Georgians in our coastal areas that could be impacted by this storm to evacuate the area as soon as possible,” Deal said in a statement Thursday.
According to the release, the executive order calling for the state of emergency will also prevent price gouging on “goods and services related to the storm,” and authorizes up to 5,000 members of the Georgia National Guard to mobilize for response and recovery in relation to the hurricane.
At 8 a.m. Saturday, the Georgia Department of Transportation will create contraflow lanes along Interstate 16 to allow for more traffic to move away from the areas in danger of being affected by Hurricane Irma.
The 30 counties affected by the state of emergency are:
Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Coffee, Echols, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Jenkins, Jeff Davis, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne and Ware.
The governor said he will hold a news conference Friday morning.
The Atlanta Motor Speedway is open as of Thursday to those seeking refuge from Hurricane Irma. Evacuees will have access to hot showers and restroom facilities at the RV and tent campgrounds.
Georgia Tourism has a hurricane information page that will help evacuees find lodging and get traffic updates.
Additionally, West Point Lake’s holiday campground opened at 8 a.m. Thursday to those seeking refuge from the storm. The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency recommends calling ahead to the campsite, although it is not required. Identification that proves evacuees reside in an impacted area is required to obtain a campsite.
The Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry opened to evacuees at 8 a.m. Thursday for those who wish to give their horses a safe haven. Space at this site is limited and open to evacuees on a first-come, first-served basis, according to GEMA. Owners must bring supplies such as feed, hay and tack for their horses.
According to the Georgia Department of Law, the executive order that Deal signed “recognized that the uninterrupted supply of petroleum products, emergency or disaster related materials, supplies, goods and services is an essential need of the public.” As a result, Deal ordered price-gouging controls in the counties affected by the state of emergency.
According to the department, price raises are only permitted if they “accurately reflect an increase in the cost of new stock or the cost to transport it, plus the retailer's average markup percentage applied during the 10 days immediately prior to the declaration of a state of emergency.”
For evacuees who wish to report suspected price gouging, they have the option of filling out a form online, calling the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at 1-800-869-1123 outside of the metro Atlanta area, or calling 404-651-8600 inside of the metro Atlanta area.
WABE's Susanna Capelouto contributed to this report