ATLANTA — During a news conference Wednesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said the state is closely watching Hurricane Dorian, which was upgraded from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane.
Kemp said state officials are already weighing considerations on how to potentially handle evacuation scenarios.
We're using advanced weather technology to track where Hurricane Dorian is moving, on Channel 2 Action News
On Thursday afternoon, Kemp issued a State of Emergency for several Georgia counties including Brantley, Bryan, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce and Wayne.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant spoke with the governor one on one.
Kemp said his office will be prepared, and he wants Georgians to plan for the possibility the storm could hit sooner than expected.
“The best we can do is prepare for it. Protect your belongings, protect your home and make sure you’re ready to move very quickly in the next 24 hours or so,” Kemp said.
Kemp said he doesn't advise people to cancel their Labor Day weekend plans yet, but be ready.
"I wouldn't want anybody to cancel their plans, but I do think they need to be very weather and traffic aware," Kemp said. "Obviously, it's a busy traffic weekend anyway."
Channel 2's Richard Elliott was at GEMA's Special Operation Center, where the agency is under a level 2 activation. Officials are getting ready to move assets where they think they are going to need to go.
GEMA has workers from different agencies who will be there coordinating the response and making sure resources get to the right places.
GEMA Homeland Security Director Homer Bryson told Elliot the state is as ready as it can be.
"We're staging our resources so that we have the flexibility to go where they're needed, and so when we are more certain, then we will adjust our resources as our planning goes," Bryson said.
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The Georgia State Patrol said it has 150 troopers standing by for traffic strike teams as the state prepares for thousands of evacuees from Florida.
Col. Mark McDonough with the GSP told Elliott most officers will be assigned to deal with traffic on I-16 as officers open southbound lanes to northbound traffic to get people away from the coast fast.
It's still not clear that officers will have to reroute the lanes, but McDonough said if they do, they will be prepared.
"All of those northern evacuations routes, 441, 19, U.S. 27, all of those routes then, we switch in that direction to ensure they are clear, and then those traffic strike teams adjust to make sure we're not a cork in a bottle," McDonough said.
The Atlanta Motor Speedway also announced it will open its campgrounds as shelter for evacuees. Camping will be free of charge.
As part of the state's emergency declaration, anti-price gouging regulations are now in effect at gas stations.
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