Although the storm has been downgraded to a Category 2, heavy rain and flooding are predicted and officials are taking no chances.
Chatham County Police Public Information Officer, Betsy Nolen, said the evacuation was mandatory. She added that the city instituted an evacuation program for “residents who don’t have the means to get themselves out of harm’s way.”
Savannah is providing 56 charter buses to move the evacuees from Savannah to shelters in Augusta. The same buses will bring the residents back home once the danger has passed.
The hurricane weakened early on Tuesday to a Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour (175 km per hour), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It was moving northwest at 2 mph (1.6 kph), below walking speed, and was about 105 miles (170 km) east of Fort Pierce, Florida.
The NHC warned that Dorian remained dangerous despite the reduced wind speed.
Dorian was expected to churn toward Florida by day’s end, before bringing its powerful winds and dangerous surf along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina by late Thursday.
The governors of Georgia and South Carolina had ordered evacuations of some coastal counties.
Dorian was tied with Gilbert (1988), Wilma (2005) and the 1935 Labor Day hurricane for the second-strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, based on maximum sustained winds. Allen in 1980 was the most powerful, with 190-mile (306-kph) winds, the NHC said.
(Production: Kristin Neubauer)