Charley is strong, but should leave Florida overnight - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Charley is strong, but should leave Florida overnight

August 13, 2004

Undated-- At 5:00PM, the center of Hurricane Charley was located Near latitude 26.9 north, longitude 82.2 west or about 30 miles West-northwest of Ft. Myers Florida.

This position is also about 115 miles south-southwest of Orlando. Charley is moving toward the north-northeast near 22 mph and a gradual increase in forward speed is expected. The forecast track moves Charley across Florida and off the Northeast Florida coast overnight.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush says damage could exceed $15 billion. Almost two million people have been urged to evacuate in advance of the storm. More than the winds and rain, forecasters fear potentially devastating storm surges of up to 20 feet.

No evacuations are planned in Georgia ahead of Hurricane Charley, but state officials are preparing for the possibility of dealing with tens of thousands of evacuees from Florida.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is preparing for a potential influx of evacuees -- as well as flooding from rains already reaching south Georgia.

The big concern is the storm surge as Charley moves off Florida's west coast. Forecasters say it could be as much as ten to 13 feet near and south of where the center makes landfall.

Governor Perdue has declared a state of emergency in Georgia in preparation for Hurricane Charley. Perdue declared the state of emergency to prepare for possible damage, flooding and price gouging. Georgia law prevents prices from being raised on essential goods and services once a state of emergency is declared.

Five years ago, Hurricane Floyd prompted the largest peacetime evacuation in the nation's history. Two and a half million fled the coast from Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. State officials said Georgia was forced to deal not only its own evacuees but also 1.7 million from Florida and 500,000 from South Carolina. Evacuees filled hotel rooms and overwhelmed the Red Cross, which eventually opened 71 shelters statewide. Many ended up sleeping in parking lots and campgrounds. They also clogged the state's highways, especially major evacuation routes such as Interstates 16 and 95.

updated at 6:50PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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