Even with forecasts that project Hurricane Irma’s path farther west and much of Coastal Georgia outside the storm’s “cone of uncertainty,” activity in Liberty County was slow Saturday morning.
Many stores and gas stations were closed. There were few cars on roads. And people either left earlier or were staying inside.
A mandatory evacuation order for the entire county went into effect at 8 a.m.
“We are continuing to monitor Hurricane Irma,” a notice from the Liberty County Emergency Management Agency read. “There was a western shift through the evening, there is still potential for change. Please continue to check for updates and monitor the weather channel.”
The evacuation order was reiterated by Alert Liberty at 8:30. It read:
The Liberty County Board of Commissioners has issued a MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER for all residents of Liberty County, INCLUDING all cities and towns, effective IMMEDIATELY. Residents should evacuate the county using predesignated hurricane evacuation routes. Once winds reach an excess of 45 mph all emergency services will cease and will not resume until the winds have subsided. Residents will be allowed to return to Liberty County once conditions are deemed safe.”
The National Hurricane Center reports that land fall on Southwest Florida will be Sunday afternoon. It will trail up the west coast of that state and enter into the Southwest Georgia late Monday or early Tuesday. By the time it is parallel with Liberty County, sustained winds could be below 75 mph and Irma would have been downgraded to a tropical storm.
It is a large storm and even in its weekend state is expected to impact this area, especially blustery winds and rain.
The discussion of the storm on the NHC’s website included: “Irma will likely bring periods of heavy rain to much of the Florida Panhandle, Georgia, South Carolina, and western North Carolina early next week, including some mountainous areas which are more prone to flash flooding. All areas seeing heavy rainfall from Irma will experience a risk of flooding and flash flooding.”