(TNS) - Potentially catastrophic Hurricane Michael is expected to still pack a punch when it gets to Middle Georgia.
After the Category 4 storm assaults the northern Gulf coast of Florida, hurricane force winds of at least 75 mph are expected from the Georgia border northward toward southern Middle Georgia.
Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency Director Spencer Hawkins urges everyone to be prepared for downed trees, widespread power outages and dangerous driving conditions.
“The worst part of it is going to be an overnight event,” Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency Director Spencer Hawkins said. “Stay inside. Stay close to home and stay safe.”
The National Weather Service in Peachtree City warns of “significant impacts to much of central and east Georgia through Thursday.”
Tornadoes could spin up and the strongest winds are expected along and south of a line from Columbus to Macon to west of Augusta.
Sustained winds of 25-45 mph are possible with gusts up to 70 mph across parts of southern central Georgia.
Robins Air Force Base public affairs announced the 116/461 Air Control Wing, E-8C JSTARS aircraft have been evacuated inland out of the storm path.
Base personnel will continue to monitor the storm and could shift additional aircraft, if necessary.
Members of the Georgia State Defense Force are manning shelters in the Macon area and are on hand to assist with disaster recovery.
“We bring an interesting spread of expertise,” defense force public affairs officer Kerry Hatcher said. “We have doctors, lawyers, communications people, I.T., plumbers, electricians, a whole cross-section.”
Hatcher and others in their units wear green camouflage uniforms with “Georgia” written across the front of their shirt.
Macon-Bibb County activated its Emergency Operations Center early Wednesday morning to pull local leaders together to plan the response.
Widespread rainfall totals of up to 8 inches are expected in southwest Georgia with the potential for locally higher amounts.
Middle Georgia could see about 6 inches of rain.
Flash flooding is expected where the heaviest rain falls. Water could puddle up on roads, especially where new highway construction has altered storm water drains near Interstate 16 at Spring Street, which has flooded in recent heavy rain.
The Emergency Operations Center in downtown Macon will be activated at about 8 a.m. Wednesday as local leaders prepare for hazardous conditions.
Hawkins encourages everyone to stay off the roads and keep them clear for emergency vehicles.
“Whereever you are Wednesday for dinner needs to be where you are going to be until Thursday morning at breakfast,” he said. “Stay inside. You don’t need to be putting yourself and your family at risk.”
In addition to having emergengy supplies, he suggests having board games handy to entertain the family if the lights go out.
Depending on the extent of the damage and outages, some areas could be without electricity for days.
Hawkins cautioned parents to prepare young children for what is to come.
“It’s going to be loud. It’s going to be noisy. Make sure your family is prepared. Those little children don’t necessarily understand,” he said.
Gather the family in an interior room, away from the windows, in the event trees topple on your home.
Pay attention to local alerts, have a battery-powered weather radio handy and sign up for MBCAlerts from Macon-Bibb County.
Telegraph writer Wayne Crenshaw contributed to this report.
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