Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue has declared a state of emergency in preparation for the impact from Hurricane Charley, which continued its romp across Florida Friday evening.
The state of emergency will continue to midnight Aug. 18, or until the end of an additional period of time as may be authorized by further Executive Order.
The Governor’s action was taken as a precautionary measure to prepare for possible damage and localized flooding, and to prevent price gouging of Georgians, and evacuated Floridians, in need of gas, food, lodging, and other supplies.
“State and local emergency management officials are following the progress of the storm minute by minute and we are prepared to adjust our emergency plans as events warrant,” the Governor said. “Law enforcement will closely monitor pricing to ensure that our fellow Georgians and our guests from Florida are not taken advantage of during their time of need.”
Georgia has a tough price gouging law (O.C.G.A. 10-1-393.4) in place to deal with individuals trying to take advantage of an emergency situation.
The law provides that the price of any essential goods or services cannot be increased once a state of emergency is declared by the Governor. There are reasonable exemptions that allow businesses to recover their actual costs. The law is aggressively enforced by the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). For example, when Hurricane Floyd threatened the state in 1999, the Office of Consumer Affairs made cases against 20 motels in middle-Georgia alone.
The emergency declaration also allows state resources to be used to assist local governments that do not have adequate resources to protect the public health, preserve public safety, and minimize property damage.
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) activated the State Operations Center (SOC) in Atlanta at 11 a.m. Friday morning and has deployed field coordinators to facilitate local needs. Appropriate state agencies are on standby to provide assistance and response.
The Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Department of Transportation are working with Florida officials to warn travelers to avoid Interstate 75. The storm is expected to severely impact motor vehicle traffic along Interstate 75, both north and southbound, as well as Interstate 10 eastbound from Lake City to Jacksonville. Commercial truck traffic, as well as other high profile vehicles, including recreational vehicles, is urged to avoid Interstate 75 and seek alternate routes both north and southbound.
Florida emergency operations officials are warning all vehicular traffic to seek shelter until the storm passes through the state. Mandatory road closures for Interstate 75 north and southbound, and Interstate 10 eastbound from Lake City to Jacksonville, are possible and are being considered in the interest of public safety.
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