Southeastern U.S. states Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia braced themselves as Hurricane Dorian continued to hug the coastal areas Wednesday evening.
The eye of the storm was located east of Jacksonville, Florida, midafternoon, bringing rain and wind. Tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings were issued in Georgia and the Carolinas.
Rain had already dampened Georgia’s skies. The state should start experiencing hurricane-force winds by Wednesday night, according to meteorologists. Gov. Brian Kemp expanded his State of Emergency declaration to include nine more counties. There are now 21 counties under the declaration.
Kemp was joined by interim Federal Emergency Management Administrator Pete Gaynor at his afternoon briefing.
“Storms like this are locally executed, state managed and federally supported, and the most important part is with individuals that are prepared,” Gaynor said. “If all that is working, it really turns into a great response.”
While the officials held the press conference, 10,000 National Guard troops across four states, 40,000 line workers and 1,250 tractor-trailer loads of food were on standby for the hurricane, according to Gaynor.
For days, many eyes were glued to coverage of Dorian as it ravished The Bahamas, leaving behind a trail of devastation and deaths.
The U.S.'s first Dorian-related death was an 85-year-old North Carolinian, who died while prepping his home for the storm, according to Gov. Roy Cooper.
“Storm prep can be as dangerous an activity as storm recovery. Please be careful when making preparations,” Cooper said.
Dorian is expected to approach the upper South Carolina and southeast North Carolina coast Thursday. More than two dozen counties have declared states of emergency ahead of the threat.
Wind gusts, heavy rain, flooding are in the forecast with a chance of tornadoes for North Carolina. Mandatory evacuations in coastal areas were in full effect.
There were 12 shelters opened in the state as of Wednesday evening.
“Today is the day to finish preparing,” Cooper said at a morning briefing. “Do not underestimate this dangerous storm. Listen to your local emergency officials and leave now if they have ordered evacuations.”