ATLANTA -- Gov. Nathan Deal expanded the State of Emergency Wednesday, adding 17 additional counties to the original 13 counties, bringing the total to 30 counties under a State of Emergency ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew.
The new counties under a state of emergency are Screven, Jenkins, Emanuel, Truetlen, Candler, Toombs, Jeff Davis, Appling, Coffee, Bacon, Pierce, Ware, Atkinson, Clinch, Burke and Echols.
“The National Hurricane Center predicts Hurricane Matthew will include excessive rainfall, strong winds and potential flooding. Because of this, I’m encouraging a voluntary evacuation for residents in Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn and Camden Counties. Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMHSA) Director Jim Butterworth is coordinating with appropriate state and local officials to ensure the safety of residents in these six counties as well as those in the other affected areas. I urge Georgians in the affected areas to remain calm, be prepared and make informed, responsible decisions as we continue to monitor Hurricane Matthew’s path," Deal said.
Several barrier islands along the Georgia coast were urged to evacuate on Wednesday, following Tuesday's original declaration.
In Glynn County, officials called for the voluntary evacuation of St. Simons, Jekyll Island, Sea Island and Little St. Simons Island as well as neighboring low-lying areas.
Glynn County officials said there was currently no plan to close the main connecting causeway for St. Simons but warned that this could change and limit emergency services' access to the island in the process.