ALBANY — Local officials settled into “wait and watch” mode on Labor Day as powerful Category 5 Hurricane Dorian moved closer to the Florida coastline, packing winds at or above 190 miles per hour.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order calling for the mandatory evacuation of five of the state’s counties — Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty, and McIntosh — along the Atlantic Coast, as officials predicted a northward turn of the storm that is being called the most powerful recorded Atlantic hurricane. Evacuation of the Georgia coastal counties began at noon on Monday.

With an air of uncertainty surrounding Dorian and some weather prognosticators suggesting southwest Georgia still could come under the influence of the powerful storm, local officials remained watchful over the Labor Day holiday with pertinent personnel on standby.

“The last report we got (Monday) still had the storm cranking up the coastline,” city of Albany interim Public Works Director Stacey Rowe said Monday. “If things continue the way they’re saying now, the hurricane should have little effect on us, with the possibility of some rain.

“We’re standing by, though, keeping a close watch on things, monitoring the situation. There’s been no call (by local or state Emergency Management Agency officials) to open our emergency center, so we’re all just on standby right now. The people who would be called in (in the event of a local emergency) are listening out, ready to come in if they’re needed.”

Kemp’s executive order reads, in part:

“... (T)he persons residing east of Interstate 95 in Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn and Camden counties mandatorily evacuate beginning at 12 p.m. (noon) on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency will oversee this mandatory evacuation in cooperation with county emergency management agencies.”

The governor also ordered the Georgia Department of Transportation to help with the evacuation process.

“It is further ordered,” Kemp wrote, “that the Georgia Department of Transportation, under the oversight of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, begin westerly contraflow operations on Interstate 16 beginning Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, at 8 a.m. to expedite the evacuation of affected persons.”

State officials have encouraged Georgians over the next few days to visit Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security websites, call 1-800-TRY-GEMA (1-800-879-4362), or follow @GeorgiaEMA and @GovKemp for regular updates as officials monitor Hurricane Dorian.

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