The former hurricane remained an enormous, 415-mile (668-kilometer) wide storm as its center moved on from Florida Monday afternoon, giving its still-formidable gusts and drenching rains a far reach.
Winds dropped to a quite potent 115 miles per hour (185 kph) by the time Irma made landfall on Marco Island, on the Florida peninsula, still a major and risky hurricane yet not near its 185 miles per hour (297 kph) former self when it set a record Tuesday for the most powerful storm in the open Atlantic. On Tybee Island east of Savannah, Holland Zellers was grabbing a kayak to reach his mother in a home near the beach. That storm caused three deaths in Georgia and an estimated $500 million in damage.
Still, Cooper said he knows Hurricane Irma could turn back toward North Carolina at any time.
The barrier islands in the southern part of the state could be under 4 to 6 feet of water from Irma's surge as the hurricane moves a couple of hundred miles to the east, officials said.
"What we saw during Matthew could exponentially increase", Jones said.
Another man, in his 50s, was killed just outside Atlanta when a tree fell on his house, Sandy Springs police Sergeant Sam Worsham said.
Downtown Atlanta hotels remained full of evacuees.
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@GeorgiaPower on Twitter - Follow @GeorgiaPower on Twitter for storm tips, outage updates, customer service and more.
For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency website.
With Hurricane Irma expected to bring heavy rains and high winds to Georgia in the coming days, Georgia Power continues to monitor the changing weather around the clock and mobilize crews.
These families said they're keeping their hopes up that they can return home soon. The winds could arrive as early as Monday evening. GDOT reports a more than double increase in traffic on I-75 southbound Tuesday morning. Alabama Power reported 45,000 outages. The last storm that powerful to make landfall on the Georgia coast struck in 1898.
Neighboring South Carolina was also preparing for potential in landlocked counties while Gov. Henry McMaster rescinded parts of an order requiring coastal health facilities to move patients inland.
Just past year, Hurricane Matthew, one of the strongest, most destructive hurricanes to hit the Georgia coast in more than a century, broke or damaged approximately 1,000 power poles and more than 3,500 trees brought down almost 120 miles of wire along the Georgia coast.
Cooper said five Red Cross shelters are hosting people from Florida and other states who are fleeing the storm. Now, radar shows the hurricane traveling farther west.