Deal expands state of emergency to include all 159 counties

Sheriff's Office: Irma will be 'significantly more impactful than Matthew'

Sheriff's Office: Irma will be 'significantly more impactful than Matthew'

The last major hurricane to hit SC was Hugo in September 1989.

Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency Wednesday for the state's 100-mile (160-kilometer) swath of Atlantic coast, which was last struck by a hurricane of force Category 3 or higher in 1898. Operators with the Public Information Phone System (PIPS) are available 24 hours a day for as long as is needed.

He suggested to those evacuating from the Carolinas: "It is a bad idea to evacuate from the Carolinas to Georgia because you could be putting yourself in the way of Hurricane Irma...the whole point of evacuation is to get out of the hurricane, not into it".

Irma is expected to then weaken to a tropical storm over southwest Georgia and southeast Alabama by Monday evening, before becoming a tropical depression near the Tennessee/Alabama border Tuesday night.

Georgia could start feeling tropical storm winds Sunday evening in the southeast (39 to 73 miles per hour.) The worst weather, in terms of storm surges, hurricane force and tropical force winds, and flooding rain, will likely be Sunday night through Monday in southeast Georgia.

Beaufort County Sheriff's Lt. Col. Neil Baxley said that SC county was preparing for the worst case scenario, which would be a landfall near Hilton Head Island with a storm surge of up to 15 feet (5 meters) of water. "They are not immune to trees falling on them".

"I urge Georgians in the affected counties to remain vigilant and be prepared", Deal said in a statement.

Both Georgia and SC had brushes last October with Hurricane Matthew.

Georgia has opened all its state parks to serve as shelters for evacuees and officials are coordinating with the Red Cross and other agencies to place as many people as possible.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington issued a coastal flood watch between Pender County, North Carolina to Georgetown County, South Carolina, starting Monday morning through Monday afternoon. And heavy rains could cause inland flooding and worsen coastal flooding.

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