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Mandatory evacuations issued

The Liberty County Commission has just issued a mandatory evacuation for everyone living east of Highway 17.

“Hurricane Matthew continues to strengthen with a general northwest movement in our direction. At this point, Liberty County remains in the forecast cone of possible impact as issued by the National Hurricane Center,” commission Chairman Donald Lovette said. “Based on the increased potential for excessive rainfall, strong winds and potential flooding, and acting on recommendations from the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, I am issuing a mandatory evacuation order for those areas east of US Highway 17 in Liberty County and a voluntary evacuation order for the remainder of the County,” Lovette’s order reads.

Lovette said he encourages all residents to heed the warning and make the necessary arrangements to leave the area if possible.

“Emergency responders may not be able to respond to areas of the county that are experiencing high winds or because of roadways that are not trafficable,” Lovette said.

Liberty County Emergency Management Director Mike Hodges said there are no plans, at the moment, to redirect traffic. He said folks should take the normal routes they had planned, but be aware that sections of Interstate 16 are now redirected as westbound only.

Government buildings will be closed Friday and are expected to re-open Tuesday for regular hours, damage dependent.

Residents are asked to prepare accordingly and to stay advised of changing conditions which may warrant additional releases and changes to recommendations issued by the commission.

The Red Cross has released the following list of shelters that are being opened to accommodate evacuees. According to Hodges, the shelters are pet friendly. These shelters opened last night and more are expected to open today:

Bibb County: Hephzibah Children's Home, 6601 Zebulon Road, Macon, GA 31220

Bibb County: North Macon Park, 815 North Macon Park Drive, Macon, GA 31220

Colquitt County: First Baptist Church, 400 Main Street, Moultrie, GA 31768

Emanuel County: Swainsboro Rec Dept. 632 McLeod Bridge Road, Swainsoboro, GA 30401.

Lowndes County: Park Avenue Methodist Church 100 East Park Ave., Valdosta, GA 31602

Peach County: Peach County Fire Station 6 , 1770 US Highway 341, Fort Valley, GA 31030

Richmond County: Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church, 1330 Monte Sano Ave., Augusta, GA 30904

Here is an active link that will display local shelters as they open:,29.9504,-77.0784,34.7102

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