Georgia Southern University’s emergency response team continues to monitor Hurricane Irma as the Category 5 storm continues to blast its way through the islands of St. Martin and Anguilla. No decision of evacuation or cancellation of classes has been made.
“We are monitoring and preparing ourselves to make decisions as soon as necessary…We will make those decisions, as soon as possible,” said President Jaimie Herbert.
GS has met with members of their emergency response team. Kelly Nilsson, GS emergency response coordinator, will continue monitoring the weather and send reports on a regular basis. The emergency response team is expected to meet twice a day for the remainder of this week to make a decision of how GS will approach the approaching storm.
According to The Weather Channel, Irma passed over the islands of Barbuda between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. with sustained winds of 118 mph. With its maximum sustained wind speed at 185 mph, Irma is the strongest Atlantic hurricane since Wilma in 2005.
While Irma’s path is still uncertain, forecastings show that the storm will begin to turn more to the north sometime this weekend as well as an an increasing chance of a major hurricane strike on at least south Florida this weekend.
The last time GS evacuated campus due to a storm was in Oct. 2016 for Hurricane Matthew.
“In our discussions after [Hurricane] Matthew. One thing we learned is that our communication plan is very effective,” said Hebert. “Our decision making protocols are very effective, so we are going to continue to implement those in the same manner in this instance as we did in Hurricane Matthew and in the tropical storm last year. We had two [tropical storms].”
According to the National Hurricane Center, the center of Irma could come close to South Florida by Sunday morning and could impact the Southeast United states by this weekend and into early next week.
The Weather Channel urges all residents along the Southeast coast and eastern Gulf Coast, including Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, to monitor the progress of Irma very closely and to have a hurricane plan in place.
Hebert said, “It is of the utmost importance to us the safety of our students, the safety of our faculty and staff in a situation like this is absolutely critical. It is our number one priority right now.”
A hurricane tracker can be found here. The NHC, The Weather Channel and The George-Anne will continue to provide updates on Irma throughout the week.