Tropical Storm Irma Claims First Life in Georgia

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Richland County, where Columbia is located, declared an emergency and closed county offices Monday, a move that will lead to the closing of all state offices in the capital city, including the University of SC.

A decision on evacuations could come Friday afternoon.

As the death toll rose to at least a dozen, the category five hurricane is moving towards the Dominican Republic and Haiti, with landfall in the United States mainland expected this weekend.

Over the next two days, Irma is expected to push to the northwest, into Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. It was traveling north-northwest at about 17 miles per hour, heading in the direction of Alabama.

"Pray, pray for everybody in Florida", Gov. Rick Scott said on "Fox News Sunday" as more than 160,000 people statewide waited it out in shelters. Power was cut off in about 70 per cent of the island.

Authorities sent an aircraft carrier and other Navy ships to help with search-and-rescue operations in Florida on Monday as a flyover of the hurricane-battered Keys yielded what the governor said were scenes of devastation.

The state insurance department published a press release Wednesday encouraging South Carolinians in the path of the hurricane to review their insurance policies, prepare an inventory of their belongings and make their homes as safe as possible.

In the U.S. state of Florida, the southernmost part of the mainland USA, lines of traffic filled the highways heading north while auto owners queued for petrol as some gas stations ran out of fuel.

School was canceled in communities around the state, and more than 1.2 million customers there were without power this morning.

While Irma's trek remains with the fate of Mother Nature, several models show the hurricane reaching deep into the state.

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President Donald Trump on Friday declared a federal emergency for Georgia, authorizing assistance to local authorities preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irma.

Philip Levine, the mayor of Miami Beach, said all residents should leave the area.

When traveling before or after a storm, be aware of electrical crews working or the potential for down power lines or power poles. "I call it a nuclear hurricane", Mr Levine told CNN.

Still, Irma's oscillations Friday put emergency officials here in a hard position: Order evacuations or wait until the forecast was clearer.

Fort Lauderdale police arrested nine people they said were caught on TV cameras looting trainers and other items from a sporting goods store and a pawn shop during the hurricane.

"What we saw during Matthew could exponentially increase", Jones said. "We don't want heroes".

Emergency management officials are stepping up preparations in advance of Hurricane Irma, not taking any chances despite a recent shift westward in the track. At least 36 people died in the storm's wake across the Caribbean. "I urge Georgians in the affected counties to remain vigilant and be prepared".

Here's what we know so far about when Irma might affect Georgia.

Wind gusts of almost 50 miles per hour were reported in the mountains, and the Blue Ridge Parkway remained closed Tuesday, which cut off access to Mount Mitchell State Park. The hurricane, which has been downgraded to a Category 4 storm, is expected to hit South Florida on Sunday, Sept. 10, and could cause potentially devastating effects.