SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Preparations are underway on both sides of the Savannah River - in Georgia and South Carolina - ahead of Hurricane Florence.
Governor Deal declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.
CEMA officials tell us they are still monitoring the current conditions and have not made a decision about whether to evacuate. Unlike South Carolina, evacuation orders can come at the local level in Georgia. Chatham County has a committee made up of city and county leaders who have met four times already ahead of this storm.
CEMA Director Dennis Jones says if they are going to call for an evacuation, they will do so by Thursday morning.
"Based on the 11:00 advisory and the way the storm is tracking right now, if a decision had to be made, that trigger point is tomorrow morning. That's if it absolutely had to be made. Again, with what we're seeing with the latest advisory, we don't think that's necessary."
Savannah city leaders are currently in close communication with neighboring towns and cities, as well as CEMA. They're watching Florence's track and following CEMA's lead on what to do next. Because of the frequent thunderstorm or heavy downpour, the city tries to be proactive with things like tree trimming and clearing storm drains - actions that help mitigate flooding and power outages.
While some of those activities were scheduled Wednesday, those kinds of efforts happen year-round. Along with protecting infrastructure, the city is also looking at resources like personnel, and where city employees will go should the area feel some of the effects of Florence.
"Right now, it's a lot of conversation. A lot of, 'what will we do if we need to take the next step, are the assets in place, is the personnel notified, do they know that they may need to come in and work this weekend,' so those conversations are happening. No actions are occurring at this time," said Michelle Gavin, Savannah Public Communications Director. "We are very susceptible to intense afternoon storms, tropical storms, hurricanes, so we need to be ready for the unpredictable weather that happens, so we do this kind of maintenance year-round. So, it's not something we have stepped up in this case because we've already been doing it, already been preparing for any kind of unpredictable, intense weather."
Thursday's regularly scheduled city council meeting will still be held. Gavin says right now, there are no cancellations of city functions.