In response to the growing threat posed by Hurricane Irma, the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) said today it would halt operations at the ports of Savannah and Brunswick from Sept. 9 through Sept. 12. Truck gates will close at 6 p.m. Friday in Savannah, while vessel operations will end at midnight. The Port of Savannah will not be accepting empty container returns Friday, said GPA, one of four U.S. ports that operates its own terminals. "The safety of our employees and partners in the maritime community is our highest concern," said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. "We encourage GPA staff and our neighbors to heed Governor (Nathan) Deal's warning and evacuate ahead of the storm." Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has issued a mandatory evacuation order effective Saturday for coastal Georgia.
Currently a "Category 5" storm located around the Dominican Republic, Irma is tracking to hit the Florida Keys and southeastern parts of the state early Sunday morning. It is projected to be packing 145 mph winds when it hits Florida It is expected to move up the Atlantic coast and hit the Georgia and South Carolina coastlines on Monday.