MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT)- Uncertainty over the path of Hurricane Irma has prompted Georgia’s governor to expand a pre-emptive emergency declaration to cover more than half of the state. By Friday afternoon, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal had declared a state of emergency for 94 of Georgia’s 159 counties. In light of the storm’s forecasted track shifting west, which will bring hurricane force winds, rain and potential flooding to the state. Contraflow on I-16 will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday.
A state of emergency now exists in the following counties in Middle Georgia: Baldwin, Bibb, Bleckley, Crawford, Dodge, Dooly, Houston, Johnson, Jones, Laurens, Macon, Monroe, Peach, Pulaski, Taylor, Telfair, Treutlen, Twiggs, Washington, Wheeler, Wilcox, and Wilkinson Counties.
The National Weather Service predicts Irma’s center will cross the state line Monday as the storm churns northward from Florida. But it could arrive anywhere from the coast near Savannah to inland communities near the Georgia-Alabama line. Evacuations have been ordered only for six counties directly on the Georgia coast, affecting nearly 540,000 people. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump signed an emergency declaration Friday authorizing federal disaster aid for 30 southeast Georgia counties bracing for possible destruction from Irma.