With a hurricane watch issued for our area, emergency declarations by the governor and county commission and a voluntary evacuation order for some Liberty County residents, little has changed from Wednesday as Hurricane Matthew approaches the area.
“We strongly encourage everyone in coastal Liberty County, east of Interstate 95, to evacuate immediately,” an advisory from the Liberty County Emergency Management Agency said this morning, adding that all area residents should prepare their property for the storm, get ready to evacuate if necessary and monitor media to decide what to do.
The one thing that has changed is the location of what the National Hurricane Center calls the soon to be “extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane.” It is closer and is expected to effect weather here through at least Saturday. The worst effects are expected to start Friday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service’s Charleston office. Because of the track of the storm tropical storm force winds will last for hours.
Conditions as the storm rakes the Bahamas and makes at least near landfall on the Florida Coast late today could weaken it.
Long County is under a tropical storm watch, as well as the governor’s emergency declaration.
An advisory from the service’s Charleston office said, “There is moderate confidence that the eye of the hurricane will track within about 50 miles of the southeast Georgia coast … There is also moderate confidence that Matthew will be a category 2 or 3 hurricane as it passes the GA and SC coasts.”
That advisory says conditions could worsen or improve dramatically quickly because of the storm’s track, which is running parallel along the coast from mid Florida to South Carolina.
Locally, officials say they are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.
Keith Smith with Coastal Electric Cooperative said during a briefing Wednesday morning that he expected power to be out 36 to 48 hours, if the storm does as much damage as expected. He said that Coastal and other utilities had asked crews from across the region to come near the area and work to restore power as soon as the storm passes.