With deadly Hurricane Matthew bearing down on the southeast, Governor Nathan Deal has just ordered a mandatory evacuation of the entire Georgia coast—six counties that are collectively home to more than half a million people.
Georgia hasn’t had a tropical storm evacuation since Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which wound up being a near-miss. Matthew, which restrengthened to Category 4 packing 140 mph winds this morning, will reach southeastern Florida this afternoon, and could start bringing heavy rainfall to Georgia later today. The storm is expected to remain strong as it travels up the coast, unleashing hurricane-force (74 mph+) winds on Georgia and South Carolina by early Saturday. Storm surges of 5 to 9 feet are expected from central Florida to South Carolina.
Everybody is taking Matthew’s threat extremely seriously: “This is going to kill people,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said in a press conference this morning.
As of 10:30 ET, more than 1.5 million Floridians were in voluntary or mandatory evacuation zones. A voluntary evacuation of Charleston, South Carolina began late yesterday, with more evacuations anticipated throughout the state later today. Thousands of National Guardsmen have been mobilized to assist.