N Carolina Officials Trying to Keep Public Vigilant on Irma

Even intrepid Keys residents ready to evacuate ahead of Irma

Although weakening is forecast, Irma is expected to remain a hurricane at least through Monday morning.

Meanwhile, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster lifted the evacuation order for eight coastal islands that he issued ahead of the powerful storm.

McMaster said those in the barrier islands in Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper counties of SC were told to leave by 10 a.m.

But people are heading back despite the warnings.

"This storm can impact any part of North Carolina - all over our state from the mountains to the coast", Cooper said. "It's bad now, it's going to continue to get worse", meteorologist Angie Enyedi said.

Irma weakened to a tropical storm over Florida on Monday morning, still triggering record flooding in the Jacksonville area.

Walls said up to 7 inches of rain are possible for parts of Georgia by Tuesday.

But forecasters built in substantial room for error, saying Irma could rake Florida's east coast on a northward path over the Atlantic Ocean toward Savannah at the Georgia-South Carolina line.

"We urge everyone to use patience as you return home", McMaster said.

Search crews planned to go door-to-door in the Keys to check on residents. Alabama Emergency Management Agency meteorologist Jim Stefcovich said strong winds could linger until 2 a.m. Tuesday.

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The governor activated all 7,000 members of the Florida National Guard, and 10,000 guardsmen from elsewhere were being deployed. Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said Hurricane Irma is going to pose challenges for first responders.

Irma, the swirling, monster category 4 storm expected to make landfall in South Florida before moving up Florida and deeper into the southeast.

DHEC says regulated dam owners have been notified to lower water levels and that they've inspected over 90 dams across the state.

"Just because the weather appears to be calm now, don't take that for granted", Deal said during a Friday news conference.

The executive order also authorized up to 5,000 Georgia National Guard members to be on state active duty to support Hurricane Irma response and recovery.

Ed Putnam wasn't taking chances.

Irma devastated much of Marco Island, off the southwest coast of Florida, leaving it with no electricity or clean water.

"Well it is changing hour by hour, minute by minute", Laessig said as he prepared to leave Friday for Athens, Georgia, 234 miles northwest. "So I'm sticking with my final decision and we're out of here".

The tidal surge sent damaged boats rushing more than three blocks onto downtown streets in St. Marys, just north of the Georgia-Florida state line, St. Marys Police Lt. Shannon Brock said. The company is holding all Georgia Power resources in Georgia in advance of Hurricane Irma and is in touch with other mutual assistance network utilities to ensure coordination and access to additional resources if needed following the storm. But more inland communities could see heavy winds and rain along with an elevated risk of tornadoes.

South Carolina's interstate system has seen an influx of vehicles during the past two days. The storm hit Cuba Saturday morning as a Category 4 before weakening to a Category 3 with winds of 125 miles per hour.

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